Melamine Tainted Cookies Recalled in USOct 20, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP
Cookies made in China are the latest product subject to a US recall due to concerns that they are tainted with the industrial chemical melamine. Lotte USA, Inc. of Battle Creek, Mich., the distributor of the recalled Koalas' March cookies, said in a statement that no illnesses have been attributed to the potentially-toxic cookies.
Melamine is a chemical that has gained notoriety in recent years for its ability to cheat nutrition tests; the chemical was originally designed to make plastics, fertilizer, and fire retardants. Because melamine possesses high nitrogen contents, it can create the appearance in food of being high in protein and has been used in recent years to falsify protein levels in foods.
In the past month, melamine-tainted milk powder has sickened thousands of children in China. Chinese food imports have also been found to contain melamine, both in the US and around the world. Melamine can cause kidney problems—including kidney stones and kidney failure— if ingested. Infants are particularly susceptible to the effects of melamine contamination.
In China, the melamine scandal has resulted in the arrest of some dairy suppliers, and the Chinese government has dismissed some local and national officials for negligence. Some countries have gone so far as to ban all Chinese food imports because of the melamine problems.
The Koala's March creme-filled cookies were distributed nationwide and to Canada through wholesale distributors and retail stores. According to Lotte USA, the following varieties are subject to this recall:
- Koala March King Size Chocolate 1.8 oz 50 grams UPC 0 81900 00001 7
- Koala March King Size Strawberry 1.8 oz/50 grams UPC 0 81900 00007 9
- Koala March King Size White Chocolate 1.8 oz/50 grams UPC 0 81900 00011 6
- Koala March Family Pack Chocolate 9.5 oz/270 grams UPC 0 81900 08001 9
- Koala March Family Pack Strawberry 9.5 oz/270 grams UPC 0 81900 08002 6
- Koala March Family Pack White Chocolate 9.5 oz/270 grams UPC 0 81900 08011 8
- Koala March Family Pack Chestnut 9.5 oz/270 grams UPC 0 81900 08010 1
- Koala March Family Hawaii Chocolate 9.5 oz/270 grams UPC 0 81900 08003 3
- Koala March Family Hawaii Pineapple 9.5 oz/270 grams UPC 0 81900 08004 0
Customers who have purchased Koala’s March cookies are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund or discard it in their trash. Consumers with questions may contact the company at (269) 963-6664, Monday to Friday, 9:00 to 5:00 Eastern Standard Time. Individuals who have experienced any health problems after consuming the Koala March cookies are advised to contact their health care professional.
In its press release, Lotte USA claims the Koala March cookie recall began on September 29, but that is in dispute. The Alabama Agriculture Department announced last week that its tests had found melamine in some of the Koala March cookies being sold in stores in that state. At the time, Lotte USA said it was conducting a "market withdrawal" for all flavors of the cookies, but the action was not called a recall. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) was immediately criticized for not ordering a recall by one consumer advocacy group.
"It is completely unacceptable that FDA has not issued a recall for a contaminated product that is on U.S. shelves and ending up in the homes of American consumers and their families," said Food & Water Watch Executive Director, Wenonah Hauter in a release. "What's alarming is that not only had a product been found in stores where it shouldn't have been in the first place, but it also had exceeded FDA's safe levels for human consumption."