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FAO, WHO and UNICEF joint statement on Melamine Contaminated Milk

Wednesday 22 September 2008: FAO, WHO and UNICEF offices in Bangladesh would like to express their concern regarding the implication of Melamine Contaminated Milk products on infant and child nutrition and health. FAO and WHO are ready to support the Government of Bangladesh for further testing of powdered milk samples by internationally certified laboratories.

The UN agencies urge the Government to ensure food safety and quality, especially for powdered milk, by enforcing the national mandatory food law (s) and regulations in order to address evolving episodes of food contamination, such as melamine in powdered milk.  Suitable references need to be made to the Codex and other international standards, in this regard. FAO and WHO will continue to provide technical expertise and advice to strengthen the national regulatory framework and build the capacity of the concerned national bodies to ensure consumer protection.

However, food safety is not the sole responsibility of public authorities. The food industry, producers and importers are also responsible for ensuring a safe supply of food to the consumers.
The UN Agencies advise all parents in Bangladesh that breast feeding is the best, safest and most natural way of providing infants with the nutrients they need, and recommend exclusive breast feeding for the first 6 months of life.  No other liquid or food, not even water, is needed during this period. Thereafter, infants should receive complementary foods while breast feeding continues up to two years.

However, when breast milk is not a viable option, infants up to 6 months would need to be fed infant formula which is designed as a sole source of nutrition for these infants. Replacing infant formula with other products such as condensed milk, regular milk powder, or fresh liquid milk is inappropriate as these products would put at risk the safety and nutritional status of this vulnerable group.

The UN Agencies stress the importance of giving this information to all mothers during antenatal and postnatal care. They also call for the full enforcement of the existing Code of Marketing of Breast Milk substitutes, which has been approved in Bangladesh in 1984 and amended in 1990.

FAO, WHO and UNICEF supports the Government efforts in addressing the issue of melamine contaminated powdered milk and advise the authorities to remove all melamine-contaminated milk products from the market as soon as tests can confirm the level of melamine in powdered milk and infant formula, while immediate action should be taken to ensure supply of safe dairy products. The UN agencies further support the efforts of the Government to communicate with the public on this food safety issue and in particular to advise citizens on how they can avoid food safety risks associated with this contamination problem.

For more information, please contact:

• WHO: Mr. Mahfuzur Rahman, Public Information consultant; Tel: 01714165212; E-mail:
• FAO: Mrs Lalita Bhattacharjee, Nutritionist, National Food Policy Capacity Strengthening Program, Tel: 01720189498, E-mail:
• UNICEF: Christine Jaulmes, Chief, Communication and Information, Tel: (+88)02 9336701-10 Ext 209, Email:



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