Cadbury recalls China chocolate over tainted milk fears
Agence France-Presse - 9/29/2008 11:22 AM GMT
British sweet maker Cadbury said Monday it ordered a recall of China-made chocolates over safety fears in the latest fallout from the ever-widening scandal over tainted Chinese dairy products.
The company issued the recalls in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia after internal tests "cast doubt" on the safety of chocolates made in the company's Beijing plant, it said in a statement.
"As a result of these tests... we have received results that cast doubt on the integrity of a range of our products manufactured in China," said the statement from Cadbury Asia Pacific.
It was not clear if the tests had shown the products contained traces of melamine, the industrial chemical blamed for sickening 53,000 Chinese children and killing at least four.
AFP could not reached company officials in Beijing or at its Asian headquarters in Singapore.
The products are the latest in a list, expanding by the day, of China-made foods and drinks that have been removed from stores around the world since the scandal was first exposed earlier this month.
More than a dozen Asian and African countries, plus the 27-member European Union, have taken steps to ban or otherwise limit consumption of Chinese milk-product imports.
Laos and Mali on Monday became the latest to order such measures.
The crisis is among the most serious in a litany of product-safety scandals emerging from China's chaotic and corrupt manufacturing industries in recent years.
Besides the toll in mainland China, five children in Hong Kong, one in Macau, and four people in Taiwan have reportedly developed kidney stones after drinking tainted Chinese products.
Chinese premier Wen Jiabao vowed over the weekend to work to restore his country's reputation, saying it was facing the problem "candidly".
However, a Chinese human rights group said Monday the government was suppressing media coverage vital to assigning blame and preventing a recurrence.
"China has tightened its grip on media freedom to contain rising nationwide outrage at tainted milk products," China Human Rights Defenders, a network of domestic and foreign human rights activists, said in an emailed report.
It cited several instances of reporting by Chinese media censored or banned by authorities. AFP could not immediately verify the allegations.
Normally used in making plastics and fertiliser, melamine is believed to have been added to milk to give it the appearance of higher protein content.
The rights group said the central government had ordered all Chinese media to toe the official line on the issue, thereby preventing exposure of "deep-seated problems in the system."
Xinhua reported last week that officials at Sanlu Group, the dairy firm at the centre of the scandal, knew as far back as December that babies were falling ill but did not report the problem to local authorities until August.
The report, citing a Cabinet investigation, said those local officials then waited one month to pass the concerns onto higher authorities.
Police in northern China have detained 22 people in raids on a ring that made and sold the industrial chemical melamine and added it to milk, Xinhua said.
Nineteen of those detained in Hebei province were managers of "pastures, breeding farms and milk purchasing stations," the news agency reported.
The detentions came after more than 800 police raided 41 "pastures, breeding farms, and milk purchasing stations" in and around the city of Shijiazhuang.
Shijiazhuang is the headquarters of Sanlu.
Posted by 4th Man at 09:13