September 28, 2008

Popular Candy Linked to Tainted Milk

By The Associated Press

BEIJING (AP) - They were Premier Zhou Enlai's favorite late- night snack. He loved White Rabbit candy so much he gave a bag to President Nixon during his historic visit to China. But the iconic brand, beloved by generations of Chinese, took a hit after it was linked to the tainted milk scandal.The Shanghai-based maker of the candy said Friday it had halted production because of suspected melamine contamination. The chewy vanilla-flavored White Rabbit sweets have already been pulled from shelves around Asia and in Britain.The Guan Sheng Yuan Co. still was waiting for test results on samples of its exported products, but all sales have been stopped as a precaution, said Ge Junjie, a vice president of Bright Foods (Group) Co. Ltd., which owns the Shanghai maker."It's a tragedy for the Chinese food industry and a big lesson for us as it ruined the time-honored brand," Ge was quoted as saying by the Shanghai Daily.The popular sweets are sold in more than 50 countries throughout Asia and the world, including most of the Chinatowns in the United States. Overseas sales have reached $160 million over the past five years.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended Friday that consumers not eat White Rabbit candy and that retailers remove it from sale. The agency also recommended avoiding Mr. Brown instant coffee and milk tea products being recalled by Taiwan's Car Food Industrial Co. Ltd., though it said it was not aware of any illnesses in the United States linked to either the candy or the coffee and tea products.Tests in Singapore and New Zealand this week found White Rabbit sweets were tainted with melamine, the industrial chemical that has already been found in milk and other dairy products in China.

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