China belatedly stopped sales of popular sweets thought to contain contaminated milk today as more countries around the world banned products ranging from yoghurt to biscuits.
The White Rabbit sweets, already removed by stores in the some countries around the world, became the first widely known recall on the Chinese mainland of goods other than milk products and milk.
Watchdogs were testing for the industrial chemical melamine in the sweets. It has already poisoned more than 50,000 infants and killed four after it was added to baby formula in China.
In Hong Kong, tests on White Rabbit showed it contained an “unsatisfactory” level of melamine of more than six times the legal limit.
Melamine has turned up in an increasing number of Chinese-made exports abroad from sweets to yoghurt to rice balls.
South Korea said today it had banned imports of Chinese-made food products containing powdered milk following the discovery of biscuits tainted with melamine.
Australia and New Zealand also issued recalls for imported White Rabbit sweets.
A New Zealand Food Safety Authority spokesman said: “This product contains sufficiently high levels of melamine which may, in some individuals, cause health problems such as kidney stones. The levels we have found in these products are unacceptable.”
Meanwhile, Australian food watchdogs announced they had formally requested that wholesalers and importers voluntarily withdraw the sweets pending further testing for melamine.
In Europe, the Netherlands has begun checking Chinese food for traces of contaminated milk.
France also banned the sale of all goods containing derivatives of Chinese dairy products, including biscuits, sweets or other such foods.
Meanwhile the milk crisis has apparently spread to animals.
Three baby animals at the Hangzhou Wild Animal Park near Shanghai have kidney stones after being fed milk powder for more than a year.
The two orang-utans and a baby lion were diagnosed after concerned keepers sent them for a check-up.