The World Health Organisation (WHO) representative in Honiara, Dr. Jeffrey Hii has said that the use of the chemical melamine in baby formula in Mainland China is an issue of serious concern.

Dr Hii said that what has happened has raised concerns that there is a strong possibility that the chemical Melamine is also used in other food products.

"Nearly 40-thousand cases of kidney stones in infants, three deaths and one unconfirmed case is related to the consumption of the Melamine-contaminated powdered infant formula. Reports have been recieved from across China since the 21st of September 2008. Almost 12,900 children are currently hospitalized," says Dr. Hii.

A statement from the WHO said that while the exact timing of the contamination itself remains unknown, a manufacturer (Sanlu) received a complaint of illness in March 2008.

The Chinese media however reported at the beginning of September that the "Good Cows Company" infant formula produced by Sanlu was contaminated with melamine.

According to the WHO, Sanlu's powdered infant formula is widely consumed by infants across China because the product is relatively affordable compared to others.

"Following inspections, conducted by China's national inspection agency, at least 22 dairy manufacturers across the country were found to have melamine," says Dr. Hii.

He says that two companies; Guangdong Yashili and the Qingdao Suokang, export their 'Sanlu' products to Bangladesh, Burundi in Africa, Burma, Gabon in Africa, and Yemen.

According to him, contamination in those countires remain unconfirmed, however a recall has been ordered from China.

"Other countries also reported finding melamine in dairy products manufactured in China," says Dr. Hii.

So far the chemical has also been found in liquid milk, frozen yogurt, desert and in coffee drink.

"All these products were most probably manufactured using ingredients made from melamine contaminated milk," says Dr. Hii.

Dr. Hii, on behalf of WHO also revealed that in 2007, Melamine was found in pet food manufactured in China and exported to the United States of America which caused the death of a large number of dogs and cats due to kidney failure.

National Express