US officials are to begin sample checks on processed meat and poultry products that are already on shop shelves for traces of melamine contamination.
The US Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has announced a general sampling plan to check those meat and poultry products that contain milk-derived ingredients such as non-fat dried milk, casein, whey, evaporated milk, and milk powder.
It is the latest in a raft of measures introduced in the US following the deaths of four infants in China linked to consuming baby milk contaminated with the industrial chemical.
The FSIS said in a statement: â€œIn light of recent disclosures of melamine being found in certain imported food products, FSIS has determined that it is prudent to do a small amount of sampling to see if there is any reason to be concerned about the presence of this chemical in meat and poultry products.â€
The products it has chosen for sampling fall into five categories:
Â· Baby food; containing a significant amount of meat or poultry products.
Â· Cooked sausages; including hot dogs or frankfurters with and without cheese
Â· Breaded chicken; bite sized morsels or nuggets with and without cheese products. Examples include â€œChicken and Cheese Nugget Shaped Pattiesâ€.
Â· Meat and poultry wrapped in dough and pizza (including calzones). Examples include products enrobed in a dough that are often identified with descriptive names such as â€œPizza Snacks-Crust Filled with Cheese, Sausage and Sauceâ€.
The agency intends to collect and test a total of 45 samples per week over a 12-week period.
It has also issued examples of common milk-derived ingredients for investigators to look for on the label of meat and poultry products, which include dried milk, whey, casein, milk solids, caseinates, hydrolyzed milk protein, cheese products and flavors. (these additives do NOT fall under the Country of Origin Law!)
Investigators are to send the samples for analysis to ensure they are above the guidance level identified by Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In October, the FDA said that any food product other than infant formula that contains less than 2.5 parts per million (ppm) of the industrial chemical does not pose safety risks for consumers.
Since the melamine problem came to light incidents of melamine-containing foods have swept the globe.
Among the products that the FDA is advising consumers not to consume because of possible melamine contamination, are Fresh and Crispy Jacobina Biscuits, Koalaâ€™s March CrÃ¨me filled Cookies, White Rabbit Candies and infant formula manufactured in China.