Jun 7, 1999
Infant formula from Europe was taken off most supermarket shelves yesterday, following the
Dioxin scare. Reporter NG WAN CHING (left), who has two young children, tries to cope, and
make some sense of it
I AM stressed. My mother called me in a panic yesterday afternoon and said that the milk
formula I had been feeding my 14-month-old daughter has been taken off the shelves.
It is because of the new food scare that is gripping Europe, and Singapore isn't taking any
But as I write this, my baby is crying.
She still needs her nightly bottle before she goes to bed.
We have changed the milk.
She used to finish her bottle of Swiss-made Nestle full-cream milk within minutes.
But Switzerland is one of the countries which may be affected by the dioxin contaminated
Dioxin is known to cause cancer in people.
I've given her Dumex which is from New Zealand but she doesn't seem to like the taste.
All this has made me furious. And confused.
Furious because I am hearing the unbelievable.
That something I have been so lovingly giving my daughters may end up giving them cancer.
Has the world gone crazy?
This is not some kind of drug I took while still pregnant.
This is milk powder, something basic and necessary.
How can anyone get such a basic and necessary commodity wrong?
Were there not enough checks in the system?
Or has every thing become so specialised, that the right hand no longer knows what the left
hand is doing?
And why should anyone think that what we feed the animals does not matter? Hey, it's all
part of the food chain.
I'm confused because I'm wondering why the Nestle milk I saw at a supermarket today says it
is from Australia. When the same tin I have at home says it is from Switzerland.
In any case, I can easily switch my children to something else.
But that's not my problem with this.
My problem is that I shouldn't have to fear that what I had given them may be of harm to
I may well ask now, what's next?
How do I know that what I give them next, bought off the supermarket shelves, with all the
appropriate safety assurances, may not suddenly get pulled off the shelves in another round of
Remember the Heinz baby food scare a couple of months ago?
(Heinz Singapore in April recalled jars of Heinz 3 broccoli, carrots and cheese baby food
because they were suspected to contain pieces of plastic which got in during preparation.)
And now there's talk of genetically engineered food or "Frankenstein food" being extremely
bad for us human beings.
Why do these food manufacturers want to tamper with natural products to this extent? Is it
for the profits?
My baby is fussing tonight, sucking and spitting because she doesn't like the taste of this
new milk from New Zealand.
Still I'm not giving in.
But all I can really do now, besides get all helplessly angry, is hope that the milk I have
been giving her was not contaminated.
PARENTS who went to shop for infant formula yesterday came away confused.
Because at many supermarket shelves, the brands they had been using were taken off the
This follows the ban on European meat and dairy products.
Popular brands such as Enfalac, Enfapro, Lactogen, Nan, S-26, Frisomel, Frisolac H and
Mamex, all manufactured in Holland, were nowhere in sight.
The Straits Times reported that at Cold Storage in Parkway Parade, the only brand left was
Dumex, which is from New Zealand.
By 10 pm last night, the shelves at Tops in Great World City were almost empty - with only
a few brands left.
Three of these were soya-based formulas.
Many parents were worried about switching to other milk products.
Mr Richard Lim, 31, an engineer, told The Straits Times that his one-year-old son, Luke,
had been drinking Frisomel.
On hearing of the ban, he threw the milk away.
But he was worried if Luke may have trouble adjusting to another brand.
He finally settled on Nespray.
What Ministry says:
HEALTH Minister Lim Hng Kiang yesterday said that Singaporeans should not be overly concerned
with the ban on all European meat, eggs and dairy products.
It is just a precautionary measure taken by the Environment Ministry.
The Ministry has advised people not to buy or eat European meat, eggs and dairy products,
or anything made with them, after fears that they may have been contaminated by Belgian animal
feed containing the cancer causing poison dioxin.
It has directed supermarkets and importers to recall all food products that come from
livestock and poultry from there.
The list includes canned chicken and pork, chicken powder, chocolates, mayonnaise, fresh
cream, ice cream, cakes/cookies, pie/pizza, pasta, milk and milk products (butter, cheese,
yoghurt and infant food).
Although the situation is not clear on products from the rest of Europe, as a precaution,
supermarkets and importers have been asked not to sell them to the public.
Once the picture is clearer, the ban will be removed.
Besides, there are enough alternatives to the banned items, brought in from the US and
The Primary Production Department (PPD) also said there would be more than enough sources
of milk and dairy products from non-European countries and there's no need to panic.