20131126 Milk products safe: FDA test results
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Milk products safe: FDA test results

CLARIFYING THE ISSUE: A Food and Drug Administration official said the study cited in the ‘Business Weekly’ report did not use national testing standards as a reference

By Alison Hsiao / Staff reporter

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday made public the test results on eight milk products which Chinese-language Business Weekly story alleged contained drug residues

The agency confirmed and guaranteed the safety of the products.

The eight products, the producers of which include Uni-President Enterprise Co (統一企業), Wei Chuan Foods Corp (味全食品), Taiwan Bifido (台灣比菲多) and Kuang-chuan Co (光泉食品), have been tested for 86 kinds of antibiotic residue and nine types of plasticizers, the agency said.

The agency also tested the products for traces of the antidepressant clomipramine, Norgestrel, a hormone used in contraceptives, and pain reliever acetaminophen, which the magazine’s study claimed to have found in the milk products, FDA Deputy Director-General Chiang Yu-mei (姜郁美) said.

“The results show that the milk products are free of all said substances,” Chiang said, adding that the tests have been conducted with liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometer (LC-MS/MS).

“We can say that these milk products are safe according to national standards,” she said.

FDA development and testing official Tseng Su-hsiang (曾素香) said clomipramine, Norgestrel and acetaminophen are the drugs inferred by the magazine to have been illicitly used, based on certain metabolites it found in the milk products, but “metabolites alone do not indicate the use of the drugs.”

The magazine’s study did not use national testing standards as a reference, she said, adding that to directly infer the use of a parent drug from the detection of a metabolite requires “theoretical grounding,” which was absent in the inferences made by the study.

“What the study pointed to was a suspicion, not a conclusion. It did not even complete the confirmation process of the qualitative testing it said it adopted,” Tseng said.

When asked whether the magazine would be punished for publishing the piece that caused a public upset, Chiang said the agency does not intend to fine the magazine.

“Article 40 of the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) stipulates that for ‘testing information on food sanitation, the method of test, testing unit and the evidence used in interpreting the results shall be concurrently disclosed’ when publishing a testing result,” Chiang said.

“We have asked the company to provide all the necessary documents and information by 5pm on Wednesday,” she said.

She declined to comment on what kind of penalties the company would face if it fails to comply, emphasizing that the agency is simply seeking to “clarify,” rather than suppress future testing efforts by private companies.

Responding to the magazine’s request that the agency conduct the same test as it did, Chiang said the test is currently being conducted, and the results are to be disclosed only after a thorough discussion with experts in the field, “since this kind of study is of a research nature.”

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