October 4, 2008

South Korea Finds Melamine in China-Made Snickers, Kit Kat

Text of report in English by South Korean news agency Yonhap

SEOUL, Oct. 4 (Yonhap) - South Korea's food watchdog said Saturday it has detected quantities of melamine, an industrial chemical, in chocolate products from foodstuff giants Nestle SA and Mars Inc. that were manufactured in China.

The Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) said 2.38 parts- per millimeter (ppm) and 1.78 ppm of the toxic substance was discovered each in one samples of M&M's Milk and Peanut Snickers Fun Size products from Mars Korea.

A Kit Kat bar from Nestle Korea was also found holding 2.89 ppm of melamine in it, the agency said. The latest discoveries bringing the local number of tainted food items to 10 amid a broadening Chinese food scandal.

All the products were made in China by the multinationals, according to the KFDA. The food agency ordered the multinational companies to recall the products found to contain the industrial chemical.

Melamine is a nitrogen-based chemical that can pose serious health risks if taken in large quantities. It is used widely in kitchen utensils, but if added to dairy-based food items the nitrogen can artificially increase protein levels, translating into higher dairy prices.

Chinese health officials have said the use of melamine in dairy products has killed at least four infants and left 54,000 others ailing from kidney stones or other illnesses.

South Korea has banned the import of all products containing Chinese powdered milk.

The KFDA is currently in the process of examining 428 processed food manufactured in China to see whether they contain the hazardous substance. It has finished checking 288 products as of Saturday morning.

Originally published by Yonhap news agency, Seoul, in English 0232 4 Oct 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.