Nearly 300 metric tons of soya meal imported from China and destined for organic poultry in Western France were withdrawn from the market on Nov. 28 after the discovery of a melamine rate times higher than the permitted standard, according to the importing cooperative.

According to Agence France-Presse (AFP), Christophe Courousse, communications director of the cooperative Terrena in Ancenis (Loire-Atlantique), said: "One of the three imported batches, of  293 tonnes, had a rate of melamine of 116 mg/kg while the standard is of 2.5 mg. All food products made from these materials have been removed from the market in early November."

Soybean meal had been delivered, before the chemical analysis, mainly to 127 organic farmers in Pays de Loire through the Bio animal nutrition (BNA), a subsidiary of Terrena a Mervent (Vendee), which specializes in the manufacture of organic food, said the report.

"The analysis of pork and laying hens show that there is no danger to public health. Unlike dioxin, melamine does not accumulate in the body. There is no transmission in the food chain," AFP was told by Fréderic Andre of the Veterinary Services Directorate in Vendee.

BNA announced its intention to sue for fraud, adding melamine to "artificially inflate the protein levels and increase the selling price of the product," said Courousse