An industrial chemical that made its way into China's dairy supplies and that authorities blame in the death of four babies has turned up in numerous Chinese-made exports abroad.
British supermarket chain Tesco removed Chinese-made White Rabbit Creamy Candies off its shelves as a precaution amid reports that samples of the milk candy in Singapore and New Zealand had tested positive for melamine – an industrial chemical used to make plastics and fertilizer.
Chinese baby formula tainted with the chemical has been blamed for the deaths of four infants and the illnesses of 53,000 others in China. Health experts say ingesting a small amount of the chemical poses no danger, but melamine can cause kidney stones and can lead to kidney failure.
More than a dozen countries have banned or recalled Chinese dairy products – the latest was France, which does not import Chinese dairy products but has halted imports of Chinese biscuits, candy or other foods that could contain Chinese dairy derivatives.
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Indonesia on Wednesday also distributed a list of 28 products that it said may contain tainted Chinese milk, including Oreo cookies, Snickers bars and M&Ms.
U.S. and European consumer safety officials urged Beijing to better enforce product safety standards.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that White Rabbit candy has been added to its list of products being inspected at ports of entry but that no melamine-tainted goods from China of any sort have turned up yet. Nonetheless, some ethnic grocers started removing the popular candies from their shelves.
In New York Wednesday, China's premier sought to ease the growing concern abroad over the growing crisis over Chinese food exports by vowing to strengthen product safety checks and meet international standards.
China needs to better enforce checks and step up efforts to protect consumer interests, Premier Wen Jiabao said on the sidelines of a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly.