Materia Medica Malaysiana

May 20, 2007

Health Ministry issues wheat gluten alert

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:39 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: There has been no report of melamine-tainted wheat gluten entering the human food chain, but the Health Ministry is not taking any chances.
A circular was issued last week to all health state directors and some 35 entry points for imported food products to be on the alert for any wheat gluten entering the country.
Wheat gluten, besides being used in the production of pet food, is also used as an alternative to soy-based meat substitutes, such as tofu.
Some types are said to taste more like meat than tofu because of its chewy and stringy texture.
The ministry’s Food Safety and Quality Division director, Dr Abdul Rahim Mohamad, said the circular contained information about melamine, the toxicity of the chemical, and how it has been found in wheat gluten from China.”
With the alert, our health officers manning the entry points will be extra careful when wheat gluten is brought into the country.
“If an imported product has wheat gluten, they will take a sample for testing,” said Dr Rahim.
If it is tested positive, health officers will direct the importer to destroy the goods — a standard procedure for any contaminated food product.
He said the alert was necessary, even though melamine-tainted wheat gluten had only affected pets.
“We must ensure that it doesn’t enter the human food chain. However, the first line of check is still the Veterinary Services (department).”
Under the Food Act 1983, anyone selling products that are not fit for human consumption can be fined up to RM30,000 and jailed not more than five years.

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