Vietnamese laboratories have found melamine in three dairy products imported from Singapore and a milk powder imported from New Zealand, raising the number of melamine-tainted products found in the country to 27, health officials said Thursday.
Nguyen Hung Long, deputy director of Vietnam's Food Hygiene and Safety Agency, said the importing companies had reported the melamine contamination themselves, reproted dpa.
The three Singaporean products are Pokka Melon Milk, Pokka Cappuccino Coffee and Milk Coffee Europe, made by Singapore's Pokka Corporation.
"We had already sold several batches of these products in the market," said Dao Ly, chairman of the board of Huong Thuy trading company in Ho Chi Minh City, which imported the products.
Ly said his company is having trouble selling milk and dairy products due to extreme consumer caution. He said Vietnamese consumers will only buy dairy products with clear packaging and labels of origin, and that have been verified as not containing melamine.
To certify his company's dairy products as safe, Ly brought samples to a melamine testing centre, which found the products tested positive.
"We are cooperating with local authorities to recall the products," said Ly.
Melamine was also found in cans of Gold Nutritionals Master Gaine powdered milk, imported by the CMC food processing company in Ho Chi Minh City.
A CMC official who declined to be named said the company had imported some 500 cans of the powdered milk but had not yet sold any. The company said it had voluntarily brought the milk to a testing centre.
While the milk was imported from New Zealand, the official said it contained additives from Thailand. The company is waiting for a decision from health authorities on what to do with the product.
Some European countries permit tiny quantities of melamine in foodstuffs, but Vietnamese government rules do not.
"Vietnam's Ministry of Health has decided to ban all products for human consumption that are contaminated with melamine," said Long, of the Food Safety and Hygiene Agency.
Long said his ministry had authorized 22 testing centres and sent 20 teams of inspectors to examine melamine content in more than 500 samples, focusing on high risk products imported from China.
Vietnamese authorities have been trying to reassure citizens that they should continue to buy milk for their children.
Deputy Health Minister Cao Minh Quang last week said melamine contamination in milk products had been effectively controlled in Vietnam, and encouraged people to continue to use dairy products.
The Health Ministry said Vietnam has not so far found any children diagnosed with kidney stones due to melamine-tainted milk.
However, local media report that fear of melamine is still causing Vietnamese to avoid consuming dairy products.
"I have not bought any milk for my children for two weeks," said Nguyen Thu Phuong, a mother of two in Hanoi. "I am not sure what products are not tainted with melamine, so the best way is to temporarily stop buying."