Watchdog: Trans-fat levels meet standards

Updated: 2013-07-10 02:28

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai (China Daily)

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China's top food watchdog said the content of trans fat in homemade baby formula abides by national and international standards, contrary to a media report claiming that some milk powder contains too much of the substance.

"Test results showed the value of trans-fatty acids in domestic baby formula products was 0.019 to 0.574 grams per 100 grams of milk powder, which conforms to national and international standards," said a notice that the China Food and Drug Administration posted on its website on Tuesday.

Tests of fatty acids and trans-fatty acids were performed on 10,187 samples of baby formula products manufactured on the Chinese mainland in recent years, it said.

"Meanwhile, tests have found trans-fatty acids in all the 197 samples of imported baby formula and the value detected was 0.024 to 0.367 grams per 100 grams of the product," the notice said.

Hong Kong's South China Morning Post said in a report on Monday that three popular mainland milk powder brands - Beingmate's Baby Club, Synutra's Super infant formula and Yili's Gold infant formula — were found in lab tests commissioned by the newspaper to contain trans fat between 0.4 and 0.6 grams per 100 grams of the product.

Nutritionists say trans fat can cause obesity, diabetes, coronary heart disease and affect the growth and development of infants.

There are two kinds of trans fat: natural and man-made, like that in artificial fat and coffee creamer, said Song Kungang, secretary-general of China Dairy Industry Association.

"Trans fat is an inherent component of mammal milk. Trans fat accounts for 4 to 9 percent of the total fatty acids in milk and 2 to 6 percent in human milk," Song said.

"No data have been shown to prove that natural trans-fat in food has adverse health effects."

The Codex Alimentarius Commission, the international food standards setting authority, caps the limit of trans fat in baby formula at no more than 3 percent of total fatty acids. The national standard has the same limit.

The SCMP also said the tests found two popular overseas formula brands that contained no trans fat. Dairy experts suspect the test results were fabricated.

A spokeswoman for Beingmate said they have never added anything to milk formula products that goes against mainland regulations, the newspaper reported.

"It's illegal to add artificial chemicals. But the infant formula is safe and reliable if the substance lies in milk naturally and the amount accords with regulations," said Cao Mingshi, deputy secretary general of the Shanghai Dairy Association.