Anglo-Dutch food giant Unilever said Tuesday it is recalling some of its Lipton-brand milk tea powder in Hong Kong and Macau after they were found to contain traces of an industrial chemical.
The recall of four batches of Lipton's 3-in-1 milk tea powder came after the company's internal quality check found melamine in the products, Unilever Hong Kong Ltd. said in a statement.
The contaminated products used Chinese-made milk powder as raw material, said marketing director Sharon Hwang for Unilever Hong Kong. She declined to reveal which Chinese brand the company had used.
"In order to comply with local regulations and as a precautionary measure, we are recalling all packs produced … from Hong Kong and Macau markets," the statement said.
Yesterday, British chocolate maker Cadbury ordered a recall of its Chinese-made products, saying that tests have "cast doubt" on their safety.
It wasn't immediately clear whether the tests revealed melamine, the industrial chemical at the center of China's recent milk scandal. More than 52,000 babies have been sickened by drinking contaminated milk.
Food companies around the globe have been rushing to assess their products since the China milk scandal broke in early September.
What appeared to be a local issue of contamination among a few large dairies has grown to affect European and Japanese food conglomerates that had expanded into the fast-growing Chinese market. Many of those companies got caught because they used Chinese-produced milk.
Some companies, however, set up their dairies and have escaped the problem.
Swiss chocolate maker Barry Callebaut, the world's leading producer of cocoa, chocolate and confectionary products, set up its own factory west of Shanghai earlier this year. The quality control staff report directly to the company's CEO.
And Japanese beer maker Asahi Breweries Ltd. to set up its own dairy farm in China, a decision that is now proving fortuitous. The company's milk, which went on sale only this month, is selling fast amid the melamine scare.