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Industry eases customer concerns over melamine scare

By Sarah Hills , 01-Oct-2008

Ingredients companies and food manufacturers in the US are taking pro-active measures to reassure customers of the safety of their products amid the melamine contamination scare which has now spread to certain tea and coffee products.

DD Williamson has issued a statement to assure clients that its colorings pose no risk for contamination with melamine, an industrial chemical that was recently found in infant formula in China and has been linked to the deaths of four children.

A spokesman for DD Williamson told FoodNavigator-USA.com: “Food and beverage processors in North America are asking their ingredient suppliers about melamine, so we're simply trying to be proactive in our response.”

The company said that for food products in which higher protein content is desirable, melamine is illegally used to artificially inflate the appearance of protein with potential health consequences to the end consumer.

The statement said: “The recent instances of melamine contamination have been to enhance the apparent levels of protein in food products. In no way does protein content impact the manufacturing process for DDW food colorings, nor do they enhance any attributes of the finished colorings.

“Additionally, colorings contribute negligible nutritional value to the products in which they are used.”

Meanwhile, Unilever said today that it had recalled four batches of its Lipton Milk Tea powder in Hong Kong as a precaution, after some traces of melamine were found. A Unilever spokesman said it did not affect any other country or any other products.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also alerting consumers that seven Mr Brown instant coffee and milk tea products manufactured in China are being recalled by the King Car Food Industrial Co, due to possible contamination with melamine. The products are manufactured by China’s Shandong Duqing Inc.

Cadbury recall

Earlier this week British firm Cadbury chocolate recalled all of its products manufactured at its Beijing plant as a precautionary measure. Eleven chocolate products exported to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia have all been withdrawn from the market but Cadbury said “no other products and countries are affected."

Meanwhile Hershey has taken steps to reassure consumers, issuing a statement which said: “The Hershey Company has never purchased milk ingredients, including powered milk, from China.

“All Hershey products use the highest-quality ingredients and are safe to consume. This includes Cadbury products manufactured and distributed in the United States by The Hershey Company.”

Chinese milk

About 53,000 children are reported to have been sickened by the melamine contamination of milk powder that first (and slowly) came to light in products made by San Lu. The company is 43 per cent-owned by New Zealand’s Fonterra Group.

Melamine-linked recalls last week included the popular Chinese sweet White Rabbit, that has been withdrawn from shop shelves the world over.

The FDA has warned consumers not to eat any flavors of White Rabbit candy imported from China. It has also issued a public warning that infant formula manufactured in China may not be safe because of concerns over melamine contamination.

It advised that caregivers should refrain from using Chinese-made formula and replace it with “an appropriate infant formula manufactured in the United States”.

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