The local dairy giant, Bright Dairy, has been illegally adding milk calcium to a cheese product marketed to small children since the end of last year, the local quality control authority announced Wednesday.
The Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision said Bright Dairy violated Ministry of Health (MOH) regulations by adding milk calcium to its baby cheese product, according to a statement on the bureau's official microblog.
"The industry and commerce authority has ordered the company to take the product off store shelves. The quality control authority will investigate the case and punish the dairy company according to regulations," said Shen Jun, spokesperson for the municipal government.
In a statement on its website, Bright Dairy said that it recalled the product from the market Tuesday.
In 2009, the MOH banned milk calcium from being used in baby food products. The label on one of Bright Dairy's baby cheese products stated that it is made especially for children between 1 and 3 years old.
"Milk calcium can put a strain on the kidneys of children under 4 years old," said Wang Dingmian, a dairy expert and chairman of the Guangzhou Dairy Association.
That being said, it is inevitable that cheese will contain milk calcium. "Milk calcium is a necessary supplement in making cheese. It is like how beer always contains alcohol," Wang said.
In its statement, Bright Diary insisted that milk calcium is "natural and safe" for young children.
Li Dongye, a dietitian, said that it remains unclear whether milk calcium is dangerous for small children to consume, according to a story in the Beijing Times.
Nonetheless, Wang said that it is inappropriate to market cheese to small children. He recommended that Bright Dairy market the product to children above 4 years old.
A company spokesperson said that it will have a baby cheese product with new labels back on store shelves next month, according to Daily Sunshine, a newspaper based in Shenzhen.
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