World and Nation

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U.S. Blocks Imports of Milk Products From China

Candy, snacks, bakery products, pet food and other Chinese products that contain milk will be detained at the border until tests prove that they are not contaminated, the federal government announced Thursday.

The Food and Drug Administration said it issued the alert because of concern about such products being contaminated with the toxic chemical melamine. It was discovered in infant formula in September and has sickened more than 50,000 infants in China and killed at least four.

Since that time, melamine has been found in a wide range of other products, including milk, eggs and fish feed. As a result, companies in the United States have recalled several products generally sold in Asian specialty stores, including a nondairy creamer and Mr. Brown brands of instant coffee and tea. But to date, the contamination here was not thought to be widespread.

“We’re taking this action because it’s the right thing to do for the public health,” said Dr. Steven Solomon, a deputy associate FDA commissioner.

But consumer advocates said the agency’s action was too little and too late.

Space Plumbers Ready For Shuttle Launching

If all goes as planned, a team of intrepid space plumbers and lube-job specialists will lift off on Friday for a visit to the International Space Station.

Like all recent missions, this trip is mainly devoted to completing the $100 billion orbiting laboratory. The equipment heading skyward on the shuttle Endeavour is part of NASA’s plan to double the station’s crew size to six next year.

Included in the payload are a second toilet and new sleep quarters, and the first-ever station refrigerator for beverages so astronauts can enjoy a cold drink.

But what is getting the most attention is a system the astronauts will install that recycles and purifies the water used on the station. It is the kind of technology that is necessary if people are going to establish long-term outposts on the moon or Mars, but it involves what astronauts acknowledge is an “ick” factor associated with what amounts to drinking one another’s urine.

Donald R. Pettit, one of the astronauts on this mission, said he calls the new system “the coffee maker,” because “it’s going to take yesterday’s coffee and make it into today’s coffee.”