Vietnamese health inspectors found melamine in samples taken from five tons of powdered milk imported from China, raising the number of melamine-tainted products found in the country to 33, health officials said Wednesday.
Nguyen Thi Hiep, deputy director of the Institute for Hygiene and Public Health, said the chemical used in making plastics was found in a milk sample sent by GBCO Production and Trade Company, located in Ho Chi Minh City, reported dpa.
"We are considering what to do with this milk," said Hiep. "We may destroy it or ask the company to re-export it."
Vietnam's state-run media reported that the value of the milk imported by GBCO was 19,000 dollars. The shipment is currently being held by the Sai Gon Customs Agency Number 4 and has not been released for sale.
On Tuesday, authorities involved in a different case asked the Hoang Phuc Huy Trade and Service Company to return three imported brands of melamine-tainted cakes manufactured in Malaysia.
Nguyen Nu Chau Hanh, deputy director of the firm, said it had imported nearly 45,000 kilograms of the tainted cakes over the past several months. One shipment that arrived in August, however, has already been sold, making it practically impossible to recall.
"The cakes imported in September and October are still in stores," said Hanh. "Our partner has agreed to get them back and we will re-export them in the next few days."
Some European countries permit tiny quantities of melamine in foodstuffs, but the government of Vietnam bans products with even minute amounts of the industrial chemical.
Melamine was discovered in dairy products after Chinese authorities acknowledged in September that it was being used in milk processed by several major dairy companies.
The chemical, which is cheap to produce, was added to make it appear that the milk contained more protein than it actually did. It is blamed for causing kidney stones and renal failure, and has sickened thousands of babies across China.