Through a letter dated 21 December 2018, the FSSAI has further extended the time on the ban of milk and milk products from China. It was the Government of India (Directorate of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry) that had first imposed the ban on the import of milk and milk products from China for three months in April 2008. This ban had been imposed only for three months as an interim step to enable other Departments to put in place a suitable measure to restrict the import of contaminated milk products into the country. The ban was subsequently extended further for a period of six months till June 2009. The list of banned products included chocolates and chocolate products, candies, confectionery and other food preparations that used milk and milk solids as an ingredient.
The ban continued to be extended from time to time and the last notification in this regard was issued on 22 June 2018 which had extended the ban up to 23 December 2018.
The FSSAI reviewed the ban on import of milk and milk products from China in a meeting held at the FSSAI Headquarters on 6 December 2018 with the concerned Departments/ Ministries of the Government of India. At the meeting it was recommended that the ban on import of milk and milk products from China would be again be extended until such time as the capacity of all notified laboratories at ports of entry across India was suitably upgraded for testing melamine.
Hence the ban on import of milk and milk products from China, including chocolates and chocolate products and candies/confectionary/food preparation with milk and milk solids as ingredients has been further extended for a period of four months up to 23 April 2019 or until further orders in this context, whichever is earlier.
About Melamine Testing
Melamine contamination has been found in human foods, particularly in milk powder, milk and yoghurt especially infant formula. Long-term or mass intake of melamine may lead to reproductive damage or bladder or kidney stones, which can also lead to bladder cancer.
On 5 January 2016, a Gazette notification was published by FSSAI on amending the Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins, and Residues) Regulation 2011. These amendments have come into force on the date of their publication. Through this amendment, limits have been prescribed for melamine in products like powdered infant formula, liquid infant formula as well as other foods. The limits are given in the table below –
S.No Name of Contaminants Food Maximum Level (mg/kg)
1 Melamine Powdered infant formula 1.0
Liquid infant formula 0.15
Other foods 2.5
According to this amendment of the Food Safety and Standards regulation, it is required that all food products undergo melamine testing to ensure compliance with standards. Approved laboratories have the capability to screen foods for the presence of melamine as well as quantify the levels of melamine present in the contaminated ingredients and food products.