13 MARCH 2002

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Import ban on Chinese food products

Following in the footsteps of the European Commission, which slapped a food ban on products originating from China, the director for veterinary services on Monday issued an import ban on products aimed for both human and animal consumption originating from China.

The ban concerns products of animal origin including fish and fish products. The ban arises after an EU mission to China late last year revealed serious deficiencies in the Chinese system of residual control leading to strong antibiotic residues in products originating from animals.

The mission also found traces of banned veterinary medicines, including Chloramphenicol, which were found in samples of shrimps and prawns.

Contacted by The Malta Financial and Business Times, Director of Veterinary Services Lino Vella said that in line with EU directives, the ban does not affect products already in the market.

However, Dr Vella remarked that imported products already in transit would have to be tested by the department for any antibiotic residue or other banned substances. The cost of these tests will have to be borne by the importers.

When asked what effect the antibiotic traces have on humans, Dr Vella remarked that they could lead to allergic reactions. In the long term they could also create strains of germs resistant to conventional antibiotics, necessitating higher doses of medication in humans.

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt