According to a notification from the Indian Directorate General of Foreign Trade, (DGFT) the ban on the import of milk and its products from China will extend until at least June this year.
India banned the import of these food items in 2008 when the melamine milk contamination scandal broke in China, which affected over 300,000 children, and was implicated in the death of up to 12 infant deaths.
The DGFT said the ban, which was set to end on December 24, would be extended to June 24, 2012. The prohibition would cover milk and products including chocolates and confectionery preparations with milk or milk solids as an ingredient.
The ban extension did not specifically cite melamine,, though sources within the Indian dairy sector have said the ban is likely to continue while any doubts remain about the safety of the Chinese sector.
The Chinese dairy sector is still undergoing checks and audits, which have detected many contamination issues – most of them dealt with harshly by the Chinese government.
Recently, China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) reported that a check on dairy giantMengniu’s products had detected the poison aflatoxin – known to cause liver cancer.
According to AQSIQ, pure milk produced by Mengniu’s division in Sichuan contained 1.2mg per kilogram of aflatoxin M1, more than double the allowed maximum of 0.5 micrograms per kilogram.
Mengniu destroyed the products and later publicly apologised, explaining that the problem came from feeding mildeweed and rotten forage to cattle, and that it was strengthening its food safety measures.
Mengniu is one of the many big dairy firms involved in the 2008 dairy scandal along with the Yili Group, as well as Bright Dairy Farms.