Cadbury recalls all chocolate products made at Beijing plant
Eleven chocolate products exported to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia, have all been withdrawn from the market.
"No other products and countries are affected," Cadbury said in a statement.
Melamine is a cheap industrial chemical at the heart of a massive food recall in China following its recent detection in baby milk powder.
Figures from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation show that over 54,000 children have sought medical treatment in China after drinking melamine-contaminated infant formula, that can lead to kidney-related problems. Almost 12,900 are currently hospitalised, and four children have died.
Cadbury confirmed in the statement today that Chinese dairy products are not used in any other Cadbury products manufactured outside of China.
Cadbury products produced at the Beijing plant are only exported to Taiwan, Hong Kong and one product only to Australia. Products impacted by the withdrawal include Cadbury Dark Chocolate 40g and Cadbury Dairy Milk Cookies Chocolate Bulk Pack.
"In Australia, as a precautionary measure, we have decided to undertake a voluntary product withdrawal of Cadbury Eclairs product line as it is manufactured in Beijing. A small amount of this product has been exported to Nauru and Christmas Island," confirmed the confectionery giant.
The firm added that it will put in place "additional checks and procedures" with all withdrawals "pending further supply of fresh products".
Replacement products will come to market once the additional checks "have been fully implemented", continued the firm, apologising to customers for the interruption in supplies.
In terms of markets, the UK company said China represents about 0.5 per cent of group revenue. The confectionery firm, that recently divested its drinks arm, pulled-in over €5 billion in global revenue at its confectionery unit in 2007.
Melamine is commonly used in food contact materials and can also be used in agriculture production such as fertiliser.
And according to the UN's FAO, authorities in China detected melamine levels in the contaminated infant formula as high as 2,560 milligram per kilogram in the ready to eat product.
By comparison, the European Commission issued a warning to industry and the public last week that said products with more than 2.5mg/kg will be destroyed.
San Lu, the Chinese firm at the centre of the crisis, is 43 per cent-owned by New Zealand’s Fonterra Group. Reports suggest that the firm had sold milk powder with more than 100 times the concentration of melamine that a small baby can tolerate.
And dovetailing from the milk powder contamination, melamine-linked recalls last week included the popular Chinese sweet White Rabbit, that has been withdrawn from shop shelves the world over.
The US Food and Drug Administration warned consumers last week not to eat any flavours of White Rabbit candy imported from China.
While the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) safety authority said that regulators had issued a formal request for wholesalers and retailers to remove White Rabbit Brand sweets from their shelves after ‘sufficiently high’ levels of melamine were found in testing of the products.
“People are advised not to consume these milk-based sweets imported from China,”FSANZ stated. “This product is sold in retail packs through Asian retailers, supermarkets and restaurants.”
In Europe, the European Commission has asked the EU-27 bloc to carry out checks on all products imported from China that contain over 15 per cent milk.
"All products from China containing more than 15 per cent milk as an ingredient, or products where the percentage of milk content cannot be established, will be subject to documentary, identity and physical checks, including laboratory analysis, to determine that any levels of melamine present in the product do not exceed 2.5 mg/kg," the UK's food watchdog, the Food Standards Authority said last Friday.
The watchdog reiterated that, to date, "it has no evidence of contaminated products in the UK".
Meanwhile, Europe's risk assessor, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), has confirmed that "the risk from these composite products (food containing a proportion of milk product) is low."