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China-made Coffee, Milk Tea Products Recalled in US for Possible Melamine Contamination

Sep 26, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP The Chinese tainted milk scandal has finally reached the U.S.  Today, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced the recall of Mr. Brown instant coffee and milk tea products by the Taiwanese company, King Car Food Industrial Co. Ltd., due to possible contamination with melamine.   The products are made by Shandong Duqing, a Chinese manufacturer.

The Mr. Brown instant coffee recall comes after melamine-tainted baby formula sickened over 53,000 infants and killed three children nationwide.  But the problems have spread far beyond China, where hundreds of international food makers have set up factories in recent years.  Just today, baby cereal in Hong Kong and snack foods in Japan were added to the list of products contaminated with melamine.  Meanwhile Taiwan reported three children and a mother with kidney stones in the island's first cases possibly linked to the crisis.

The melamine contamination is likely the result of Chinese dairy suppliers trying to cut costs  by diluting their milk.  Melamine would have been added to boost the protein levels in the diluted milk, as the industrial chemical's nitrogen content can fool tests used to verify protein levels. A small amount of melamine poses no danger, but larger doses can cause kidney stones and lead to kidney failure.

Today, the FDA in the U.S.  is recommending that consumers not consume any of the recalled Mr. Brown instant coffee and milk tea products. The FDA is also telling retailers and foodservice operators to remove the products from sale or service.

The products involved in this recall include:

•    Mr. Brown Mandheling Blend Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
•    Mr. Brown Arabica Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
•    Mr. Brown Blue Mountain Blend Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
•    Mr. Brown Caramel Macchiato Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
•    Mr. Brown French Vanilla Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
•    Mr. Brown Mandhling Blend instant Coffee (2-in-1)
•    Mr. Brown Milk Tea (3-in-1)

Despite this recall, the FDA said no milk-based imports from China have tested positive for melamine contamination so far.  

In the same alert, the FDA said the New Zealand Food Safety Authority reports that its testing of Chinese-made White Rabbit Creamy Candies - also sold in the U.S. - has shown melamine contamination at high levels.  The FDA  is also recommending that consumers not eat White Rabbit Creamy Candy and that retailers and foodservice operations remove the product from sale or service.

To date, the FDA is not aware of any illnesses in the U.S. stemming from consumption of either White Rabbit Creamy Candy or the Mr. Brown instant coffee or tea products.  

Earlier this month, the FDA warned that melamine-tainted baby formula may have been imported to the U.S., despite the fact that it is not approved for sale here.  But the agency was concerned that the product may been sold at ethnic groceries, particularly in places like New York and San Francisco that have large populations of Chinese immigrants.

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