The Food and Drug Administration is urging U.S. consumers to avoid all infant formula from China, after several brands sold in that country came under suspicion of being contaminated with melamine, a chemical used in plastics.
Officials said there have been reports from China of babies developing serious kidney problems as a result.
“We're concerned that there may be some infant formula that may have gotten into the United States illegally and may be on the ethnic market,” said Janice Oliver, deputy director of the FDA's food safety program. “No infant formula from China should be entering the United States, but in the past we have found it on at least one occasion.”
All U.S. brands of infant formula are safe, Oliver said. After hearing of the latest food safety scandal in China, the FDA checked with formula manufacturers here to determine if they were receiving any ingredients from that country. They were not.
“We want to assure the American public there is no threat of contamination to the domestic supply,” said Oliver.
There have been no reports of illnesses in the U.S., but officials are concerned that some Chinese formula may be on sale at ethnic groceries, particularly in places such as New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Boston that have large populations of Chinese immigrants.
The FDA is working with state officials to spread the word in immigrant communities.