Oddly Enough

Melamine risk spreads, so to speak...

GENEVA (Reuters) - Chocolate-flavored body spreads sold in British sex shops have been found to be tainted with melamine, the chemical that made thousands of babies ill in China, food safety authorities said Monday.

Taiwan Department of Health officials pack milk powder samples for melamine contamination testing in Taipei September 22, 2008. REUTERS/Nicky Loh

The British Food Standards Agency (FSA) said melamine had been found in Chinese-made “I Love You” sets, sold at Ann Summers sex shops, containing chocolate and strawberry body pens and chocolate-flavored penis and nipple spreads.

“This is a first. We’ve never had to put out an alert before on ‘willy spread’ -- chocolate-flavored or otherwise,” the FSA said on its Web site,

It said the health risk from the affected products was low.

At least four children died in China and thousands of others were treated in hospital after consuming milk powder containing melamine, an industrial compound added to cheat quality tests.

Dozens of countries have since banned imports of Chinese dairy ingredients and recalled products ranging from cookies to herbal drugs and octopus dumplings.

Peter Ben Embarek, a food safety expert at the World Health Organization (WHO), said national authorities needed to widen their checks and tests.

“Milk powder is a very common ingredient in a very large range of products, from candies to biscuits, chocolates, drinks, and so on and so on,” he said.

The levels of melamine detected in the “I Love You” sets, manufactured in China by Le Bang and imported into Britain by Scobie (Llarn) Ltd, ranged from 126 milligrams per kg to 259 milligrams per kg, the FSA said.

European Union rules require that products with more than 2.5 milligrams per kg must be withdrawn and destroyed.

Embarek said adults may be less at risk of illness from consuming melamine than infants whose only food source was tainted formula.

“It is not an acute public health danger if you eat one contaminated biscuit,” he said.

Editing by Kevin Liffey