The concerning thing about Cadbury’s recall of its chocolates made with milk tainted with melamine is that all of the dairy suppliers to Cadbury’s Beijing plant had earlier been given the all-clear by the Chinese testing. It was the company’s own tests that uncovered the traces of melamine, although the source and extent is not yet clear. ‘We have received results that cast doubt on the integrity of a range of our products manufactured in China,” the company said.
Cadbury has recalled 11 products sold in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Australia.
It is less than 48 hours since a senior official said the problems with tainted dairy products were under control. Since then the E.U., India, France and South Korea have joined the ranks of those imposing restrictions on Chinese milk and dairy related imports, the maker of White Rabbit candy has issued a product recall, Japan’s Lotte Group has removed its popular chocolate-filled Koala-shaped cookies, which are made in Macau, from Hong Kong supermarket shelves, and there have been reports of baby zoo animals developing kidney stones after being fed melamine contaminated milk.
China’s exports of dairy products are modest, worth $232 million last year, but the danger to Chinese exporters lies in collateral damage to all food exports on the grounds that the lax health and safety standards uncovered in the dairy industry will be thought to be widespread. Government-to-government negotiations to allow cooked chicken exports to the U.S. for the first time are likely to be stalled because of the milk scandal.
Meanwhile, the scandal has brought down its first government minister, but in Taiwan. Lin Fang-yue, the island’s health minister, said he would resign in face of public outrage that the government would allow sales of Chinese milk products with low levels of melamine.
Are there more unsafe products coming to market, or are we just noticing more and getting tougher on enforcing consumer-safety laws?
The FT reports that more than two dozen dangerous-product notifications are being made each week on average across the EU. It says notifications are running at record levels and 43% up on the average figure for 2006, citing an analysis by law firm Lovells.
Nearly half of this year’s 932 product recalls in Europe involve goods made in China. A third of the total involved toys. Neither particularly surprising given the present climate.