Malignant milk?

ON THE heels of the mad cow disease, the British government is faced with another food safety crisis. This time the crisis centres around powdered baby milk thought to contain potentially hazardous chemicals. However, the government has insisted that there was no cause for alarm. The controversy began after a study suggested that cancer and damage to human fertility could be caused by phthalates in some milks. This group of chemicals is commonly found in plastic packaging, though at levels well below safety standards set by the European Union.

Tim Boswell, junior agriculture minister, ruled out any risk to babies, their parents and the public. But he refused to divulge the names of the brands which contained the chemicals. John Chisolm, deputy chairperson of the British Medical Association said, "Mothers will find this very frightening. They have a right to know the facts, so that they can choose milk that is safe." The latest row has again raised the demand for setting up an independent food standards agency.