Hong Kong: Cadbury Melamine Levels Acceptable

Amount of melamine found in two samples of chocolate made at British candy maker’s Beijing factory was legally acceptable for human consumption, said authorities.

HONG KONG (AP) -- Hong Kong authorities said Tuesday the amount of melamine found in two samples of chocolate made at British candy maker Cadbury's Beijing factory was legally acceptable for human consumption, a day after the company recalled 11 items sold in parts of Asia and the Pacific.

Hong Kong's Center for Food Safety said it tested six Cadbury chocolate samples, including two made at Cadbury's Beijing plant, and found them to contain less than 2.5 parts per million legally considered acceptable here. It did say whether it was testing the other nine products being recalled.

The Food and Drug Administration has said that no level of melamine deliberately added to a food product is legal in the United States.

Cadbury said the Hong Kong test results did not change their decision to recall the products from the Beijing plant.

"It was tested as satisfactory but we are still withdrawing it," said Simon Taylor, head of corporate relations and communications at Cadbury. "That makes no change from what Cadbury announced on Monday."

Baby formula containing melamine has been blamed for killing four babies and sickening over 50,000 in mainland China. The state-run China News Service says 27 people have been arrested so far in connection with the scandal.

Since melamine-tainted infant formula was uncovered in China, the banned chemical as been found in an array of food products forcing a wave of recalls, mostly in Asia.

Hong Kong authorities said it had found four other Cadbury products produced at plants outside of China also contained "satisfactory levels" of melamine.

Experts say some amount of melamine, which is used to make plastics and fertilizers, may be transferred from the environment during food processing.

But in China's case, suppliers trying to boost output are believed to have diluted their milk, adding melamine because its nitrogen content can fool tests aimed at verifying protein content.

On Tuesday, China's President Hu Jintao made his strongest public comments yet regarding the scandal

"We need to ensure that all products on the market are up to standard, so that consumers don't have to worry," Hu said during a tour of dairy farms broadcast on China Central Television's evening news.

The Dutch food safety watchdog announced Tuesday it had found slightly elevated levels of the industrial chemical melamine in cookies imported from China and sold under the "Koala" brand.

The cookies have been pulled from shelves in the Netherlands and the chance they have made anybody sick is "extremely small," the agency said.

Also Tuesday, Anglo-Dutch food giant Unilever said it was recalling its Lipton-brand 3-in-1 milk tea powder in Hong Kong and Macau after it was found to contain melamine.

Last week, Unilever recalled Lipton Green Milk Tea from the Taiwan market because the product used Chinese-made milk.

Hong Kong authorities also said they had found unacceptably high levels of melamine in Pocky Men's coffee cream coated biscuit stick, produced by Japan's Ezaki Glico Co. Ltd. The company had no immediate comment on the reported contamination.

Two samples of coconut and walnut cakes manufactured by Tian Le Yuan Foods Co. Ltd. in southern China were also found to contain unacceptably high levels of melamine, authorities said.

The South Korea Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday melamine had been found in Nabisco Ritz cracker cheese sandwiches and in rice crackers made by Danyang Day Bright Co.

The maker of Nabisco Ritz crackers, Northfield, Illinois-based Kraft Foods Inc., did not immediately return messages left seeking comment.

Melamine has now been found in six products imported to South Korea and the country has banned imports of all Chinese-made food products containing powdered milk.

Associated Press writers Anita Chang in Beijing and Bob Barr in London contributed to this story.

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