The import of ammonium bicarbonate from three manufacturers in China has been banned as the substance has been found to be tainted with melamine.
Ammonium bicarbonate from Broadtech Chemical Int. Co Ltd, Dalian Chemical Industries and Tianjin Red Triangle International Trading Co Ltd has been categorised under Level 6 which means automatic rejection.
Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said having pinpointed the contaminant source, the ban of ammonium bicarbonate made by other China manufacturers would be relaxed to a “hold and test” status.
Ammonium bicarbonate is a raising agent used in biscuit production and local biscuit makers get almost 95% of the ingredient from China.
Liow said the tainted ammonium bicarbonate was most likely due to cross contamination as some factories that produce food-grade ammonium bicarbonate also produce other chemicals such as urea and melamine. There is no benefit in using melamine in biscuit production.
Ammonium bicarbonate from other manufacturers in China has been placed under Level 5 (to be tested before release) and that from other countries has been placed under Level 4 (under surveillance).
Liow, who was not certain of the market share of the three companies, was speaking to reporters after meeting 50 representatives from biscuit manufacturers and ammonium bicarbonate suppliers.
Last week, Malaysia banned all import of ammonium bicarbonate from China after it was found to contain traces of melamine, leading to the recall of 18 types of biscuits from local makers Khong Guan and Khian Guan.
Malaysia Foodstuff and Toy Merchants Association president Yeow Kock Tiong appealed to the ministry to relax the ruling on milk-related products from China from Level 6 to Level 5.
“Many imported products are already in the market and they have been tested and cleared.
“It is the same product and the same brand. Why bar them at the entry point when there have been no problems with the products?” he said.