Retailers in Britain and Australia have taken Chinese sweets off its shelves due to fears over the contaminated milk product scandal. Tesco, Britain's biggest retailer, said in a statement: "As a precautionary measure we have withdrawn White Rabbit Candies from the very small number of UK stores that sell them as part of our ethnic range." A spokeswoman for the supermarket said the decision was taken yesterday and the products were removed from the shelves immediately.
Four children have died and some 53,000 children have become sick in China after consuming milk products tainted with melamine, a product normally used to make plastics. The scandal has prompted a host of nations to ban, or at least scrutinise, Chinese dairy imports. White Rabbit Candies have also been removed from sale in Australia after authorities warned it contained a toxic chemical, officials said today. Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) said retailers in Australia had been asked to remove the sweets from their shelves.
In New Zealand, officials warned people against eating the sweets after they were found to be contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine. Food Standards Australia and New Zealand said the testing released today confirmed the White Rabbit lollies contained enough melamine to cause health problems if consumed in high quantities over a long period. "People are advised not to consume these milk-based sweets imported from China," it said in a statement. "It is unlikely that there could be a problem if consumed in small amounts but people with concerns about the consumption of this product should seek medical advice." The New Zealand Food Safety Authority issued a similar warning for the sweets, which are sold in Asian supermarkets. A Radio New Zealand report said the authority does not have the legal authority to issue a recall. "This is a serious concern," the authority's deputy chief executive said in a statement. "We cannot discount the likelihood of health risks resulting from the consumption of these sweets."
Taiwan will also remove 160 products containing Chinese milk and vegetable-based proteins from store shelves, a senior health official said today. The announcement by Department of Health vice minister Sung Yen-jen is Taiwan's toughest response yet to the escalating tainted China milk crisis. President Ma Ying-jeou, who cruised to victory in March elections on a platform of closer economic ties with the mainland, said: "I condemn the mainland manufacturers that have produced fake milk and dairy creamer." His statement came two days after Taiwan banned the import of the China-made milk products and vegetable-based proteins. *AFP / AP