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You are here: vsf » Projects » STOP-Melamine

STOP-Melamine

CONSTRUCTION OF CENTRAL QUALITY LABORATORIES IN EAST AFRICA

Due to food shortages at home, imported milk powder is a staple foodstuff.
However, consumption of Chinese melamine-contaminated milk powder endangers the health of thousands of children. With project "STOP melamine," VSF identified abuses and is now committed to establishing a secure, investigative warning system.

Although the Chinese melamine scandal is no longer covered by the media, its consequences continue. In order to cover-up illegal dilution of milk with water, milk powder and other dairy products from Chinese dairies and baby food manufacturers were mixed in 2008 with the synthetic compound melamine. In China, this resulted in the deaths of six infants and in the formation of kidney stones in about 294,000 children. A worldwide import ban on Chinese dairy products was adopted. According to official reports, China destroyed all affected batches.

Due to shortages at home, Africa is dependent on imported milk powder. Furthermore, HIV-positive mothers cannot breast-feed their babies because of the enormous risk of infection and are therefore dependent on these imports.

First examination of African milk powder by VSF Austria
The explosive question, whether melamine-tainted milk powder had come to Africa, was first tackled by VSF Austria, and it has been the only international organization to do so. The results of our investigation of locally sampled African milk powder are very alarming: 6% of the examined baby foods were positively for melamine, and this included products from international corporations! Consequently, the Tanzanian Ministry of Health was able to confiscate more than 40 tons of Chinese milk powder.

For the time being, the lack of both financial resources and technical expertise is preventing further investigation of melamine in milk powder and baby food.

Our tasks:

  • to establish a central quality laboratory to test for melamine and other hazardous residues and contaminants,
  • to establish suitable detection methods on-site,
  • to enroll African scientists and veterinarians to conduct these lifesaving tasks.
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