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Four more Japanese infant formulae found to have low iodine content (with photos)

     The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department announced today (August 10) that four more Japanese infant formulae were found to have low iodine content and may have potential adverse health effects on infants. Three of them are other products of Morinaga and Wakodo, and one is from Meiji.

     Parents are urged not to let their babies consume these powdered infant formulae. The trade should also stop selling all batches of these products.

     Details of the four powdered infant formulae are as follows:
(1) Product name: Meiji HP (for 0 to 36 months old)
Manufacturer: Meiji Co Ltd
Place of origin: Japan
Net weight: 850 grams
Batch number/Use by date: May 14, 2013 10:34/16A

(2) Product name: Wakodo (for 0 to 9 months old)
Manufacturer: Wakodo Co Ltd
Place of origin: Japan
Net weight: 13 grams x 10 packets
Batch number/Use by date: November 16, 2013 Lot2E17

(3) Product name: Morinaga (for 0 to 12 months old)
Manufacturer: Morinaga & Co Ltd
Place of origin: Japan
Net weight: 13 grams x 10 packets
Batch number/Use by date: May 5, 2013 Lot1K05/B39C

(4) Product name: Morinaga (for 0 to 12 months old)
Manufacturer: Morinaga & Co Ltd
Place of origin: Japan
Net weight: 820 grams
Batch number/Use by date: December 25, 2012 Lot1F25/F14

     A spokesman for the CFS said, "Apart from the Wakodo and Morinaga powdered infant formulae (both 850 grams in weight per can) announced earlier, the above four powdered infant formulae manufactured in Japan were found to have iodine content below the requirement of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex).

     He added, "Risk assessment findings also revealed that, when infants are fed according to the instructions provided by the manufacturers as printed on the label, even after taking into account the iodine content in tap water, the iodine intake of infants solely fed on the formulae concerned would be less than one-third of the value recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), i.e. 15 micrograms per kilogram of body weight. This may affect the functioning of the thyroid gland. If normal thyroid function is significantly affected, there may be potential impact on the brain development of infants."

     The CFS has informed the trade of the test results. Those who have bought the affected products should stop feeding their infants with these products and switch to other infant formulae or consider breastfeeding if possible. The trade should also stop selling the products concerned immediately.

     As there is no sole agent or dedicated importer for the products concerned in Hong Kong, consumers may check with the retailers from which they bought the affected products whether there are recall arrangements.

     "The CFS embarked on a two-year targeted surveillance programme this May to test the nutritional composition of infant and follow-up formula available in the market. In view of the fact that, out of the first batch of 14 samples analysed, two Japanese infant formula samples were detected with rather low iodine content and may have impact on infants' thyroid function, the CFS has stepped up sampling of powdered formulae catering for infants below six months old available in the market for testing their iodine content," the spokesman said.

     Among the 21 infant formula samples tested this time, nine of them did not meet the Codex standard, which included:
1. Four samples of Morinaga and Wakodo infant formulae (both 850 grams in weight per can) from two different batches of the same products announced on August 8, which are being recalled;
2. The four above-mentioned samples; and
3. Osmolac, a formula targeting infants who have diarrheic episodes, for which risk assessment did not show health concern.

     Furthermore, among those infant formulae which did not meet the Codex requirement for iodine content in the first round of testing, further samples of two infant formulae, namely Physiolac Infant Milk 1 (900 grams in weight per can) and Friso Gold Infant Formula 1 (900 grams in weight per can), were found to have iodine content meeting the Codex requirement in this round of testing.

     "Including the test results announced today (see attached table), the CFS has completed testing on the iodine content of all powdered formulae intended for infants below six months old, which were manufactured in Japan and available for sale locally. Tests of iodine content on other infant formulae produced in other countries will be completed within this month. Appropriate follow-up actions will be taken, including announcing the test results, if the findings on the samples indicate potential health impacts on infants," the spokesman said.

     Meanwhile, the CFS will also continue its tests on the content of energy and the remaining 32 essential nutrients set by the Codex in infant and follow-up formulae of different brands. This targeted surveillance programme is expected to be completed by mid-2013. Test results will be announced in phases.

     The safety of infant formulae available for sale in Hong Kong is regulated by the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132) and its subsidiary legislation, the spokesman said. The CFS takes milk powder samples for chemical, microbiological and radiological tests under its regular food surveillance programme.

    The spokesman stressed that in view of the latest development, the Government will expedite preparatory work for legislation to regulate the nutritional composition and nutrition labelling for infant formulae.

     For enquiries about iodine in infant formula, people may call the CFS' enquiry hotline at 3978 0600. In addition, the CFS has set up a dedicated website ( with frequently asked questions regarding iodine in infant formula, iodine levels in selected infant formulae available in Hong Kong, and the announced test results uploaded for the public's information and reference.

     In view of the latest findings, a spokesman for the Department of Health (DH) said that infants who are taking the above-mentioned infant formulae should change to another brand of cow milk-based formula with adequate iodine content.

     If parents are worried, they may call the DH hotline (2125 1111), or make an appointment for their infants of one to eight months old who are taking the above infant formulae to have blood testing for thyroid function at the 10 designated Maternal and Child Health Centres.

Ends/Friday, August 10, 2012
Issued at HKT 21:47


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