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Melamine Tainted Cookies Found on NY Store Shelves

Dec 10, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP Last week, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYSDAM) discovered melamine-contaminated cookies on store shelves.  The discovery  followed a nationwide October 17th recall, which included the Koala’s March Crème-Filled Strawberry Cookies found by NYSDAM, reported the Epoch Times.  The recall was initiated by distributor Lotte, USA, the Epoch Times said and the sample tested contained an identical UPC code as the recalled cookies.  NYSDAM said that following a recall, some store owners will continue to carry the recalled product on purpose while others may never have learned about the recall.

Melamine is an industrial chemical used in the production of fire retardants, fertilizers, and plastics.  Because of its high nitrogen levels, it can create the false appearance of high protein levels in food and Chinese manufacturers have are known to have  added it  to diluted milk to falsely raise its protein levels.

In sufficient quantities, ingesting melamine can cause kidney problems, including kidney stones and kidney failure, and in the case of at least six children, death.  The melamine scandal was first reported early this fall, said the AP; however, China’s government confirmed that the Shijiazhuang Sanlu Group Co., a dairy firm and key participant in the scandal, knew last year its products were tainted and was also aware company and local officials were involved in a cover-up.  The Epoch times noted that this month, the Chinese government admitted that they lied about how many children were sickened, now stating that almost 300,000 infants were affected; the exact number of infant deaths remains unclear, but some reports confirm six fatalities.

According to the Epoch Times, Steve Stich, NYSDAM’s Assistant Director of Food Safety and Inspection said in an email that, “Since this is well below the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) tolerance level of 2.5 ppm, we will not be taking action on this sample.  We will, however, keep our eyes out for similar products and continue sampling for melamine.”  The cookies’ contamination level, said the Epoch Times, was 0.97 ppm melamine.  The information was included in an email sent to Judy Braiman, president and founder of Empire State Consumer Project, a NY consumer protection group, said the Epoch Times.  “These cookies are marketed to very young children.  No child or adult should be exposed to any melamine in the food they consume,” said Braiman, according to the Epoch Times.

According to the FDA’s October 17 release, Lotte recalled all Koalas’ March Cookies on September 29 over possible melamine contamination and included Koala March King Size cookies in chocolate (1.8 oz/50 grams/UPC 0 81900 00001 7), strawberry (1.8 oz/50 grams/UPC 0 81900 00007 9), and white chocolate (1.8 oz/50 grams/UPC 0 81900 00011 6); Family Pack cookies in chocolate (9.5 oz/270 grams/UPC 0 81900 08001 9), strawberry (9.5 oz/270 grams/UPC 0 81900 08002 6), white chocolate (9.5 oz/270 grams/UPC 0 81900 08011 8), and chestnut (9.5 oz/270 grams/UPC 0 81900 08010 1); and family Hawaii cookies in chocolate (9.5 oz/270 grams/UPC 0 81900 08003 3), and pineapple (9.5 oz/270 grams/UPC 0 81900 08004 0).

A wide variety of other products imported from China have been recalled—some internationally—for melamine contamination, including milk products, baby formula, eggs, yogurts, candies, milk teas, crackers, cheese, and cookies, to name some.  Most recently the FDA issued a warning about Topaz brand Hazelnut Wafer Rolls and possible melamine contamination, said the Epoch Times.

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