Cambodia's national customs authority on Thursday warned citizens to avoid food products imported from China, pending tests for the dangerous chemical melamine, which has been found in a number of Chinese products, including milk powder.
The warning comes as the authority, CamControl, was bolstering efforts to monitor imports from China in local markets nationwide, including pulling several products from shelves.
Around 30 countries worldwide have begun recalling products made with Chinese milk powder, suspected to be contaminated with melamine, a chemical potentially fatal for children.
At least four Chinese babies have died after ingesting melamine-laced milk products and 54,000 have been sickened, the Associated Press reported Thursday.
Singaporean officials found melamine traces in three Chinese products Thursday, including Cadbury candies, AP reported.
CamControl pulled some products from Phnom Penh markets on Wednesday, including nearly 20,000 packages of White Rabbit sweets, said Khlauk Choun, deputy secretary-general of the agency.
"I've asked all levels of people, be careful not to eat export products from China, which are suspected of containing melamine," he said. "And I've distributed samples of the products that have melamine in them."
CamControl officials have gone to markets around the country posting examples of milk powder and other products as warnings to vendors and shoppers.
"We cannot find out whether the [tainted] Chinese milk powder has come into Cambodia yet," he said. "But some products that are suspected, like Chinese milk products, ice cream, chocolate, cake, or candy, including the popular Chinese White Rabbit, we seized all of these products from stalls and from markets for testing."
CamControl was "very concerned" that tainted Chinese milk powder could be re-labeled in China and exported to Cambodia.
"We aren't discriminating against Chinese food products," he said, but the authorities were following a "risk profile" of potentially dangerous products.
"We are more focused on the food product from China than before," he said. "We regard this as a priority."