Tesco withdraws sweets over milk poison fears

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The Independent Online

Tesco has withdrawn a brand of Chinese sweets after reports that they could contain the substance at the centre of a milk poisoning scandal in China.

The retailer said it had no evidence that the White Rabbit Creamy Candies were tainted with melamine, but they were being removed as a precaution.

There had been no reports of people falling ill after eating the sweets.

The sweets are made in China and sold in a small number of British Tesco stores as part of the supermarket's ethnic range.

Tesco said it removed the sweets on advice from the UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA).

A Tesco spokesman said: "As a precautionary measure we have withdrawn White Rabbit Candies from the small number of UK stores that sell them as part of our ethnic range."

The FSA said: "We are asking industry to check the source of this product and will take any action if necessary."

Melamine is the substance implicated in the contaminated baby milk powder scandal in China, causing four babies to die and about 53,000 children to become ill.

Melamine is an industrial chemical used in plastics. It can cause stomach pain and kidney stones if consumed.

It was found to have been added to children's milk formula sold in China to make it appear higher in protein.

New Zealand's Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) issued a warning about the same brand of sweets today, saying they contained unacceptably high levels of melamine and people should not eat them.

Tests of the sweets showed they contained 180 parts per million of melamine, the organisation said.

NZFSA's deputy chief executive Sandra Daly said people had been advised not to eat the sweets because the likelihood of health risks could not be discounted.

The product appeared to come from a number of manufacturers via importers, she added.