Nes­tle: No health risk in for­mula Food gi­ant re­calls two batches of its baby food for in­suf­fi­cient in­gre­di­ents

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By ZHOU WENTING in Shang­hai zhouwent­ing@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

Swiss food gi­ant Nes­tle as­sured con­sumers that batches of in­fant for­mula dis­trib­uted by its Shang­hai branch, which qual­ity au­thor­i­ties found to be sub­stan­dard, pose no health risk.

Two batches of Al­fare, a baby for­mula for spe­cial med­i­cal pur­poses that is im­ported from the Nether­lands, were flagged on July 18 af­ter tests showed they had about 35 per­cent less se­le­nium than was stated on the la­bel. Se­le­nium is a com­mon in­gre­di­ent in vi­ta­mins and di­etary sup­ple­ments.

The 400-gram sam­ple cans were pur­chased from two stores in Shenyang, Liaon­ing prov­ince and in­spected by the China Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion along with 158 other prod­ucts from nine com­pa­nies.

The Shang­hai FDA said al­most all of the 20,178 cans of in­fant for­mula from the two Al­fare batches had been sold, but 135 had been re­called as of Tues­day.

Nes­tle’s Shang­hai dis­tri­bu­tion base is now un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion to de­ter­mine whether the sub­stan­dard product re­sulted from a one­time mis­take or a sys­temic fail­ure, ac­cord­ing to city au­thor­i­ties.

On Wed­nes­day, Nes­tle is­sued a state­ment say­ing it had “acted im­me­di­ately on the CFDA’s re­quest to with­draw the af­fected batches”, and that in­ter­nal and third­party test­ing had shown that no other batches were af­fected.

“The con­sump­tion of these two batches does not pose any health risks,” the com­pany said. “There is no safety im­pli­ca­tion. We sin­cerely apol­o­gize for the in­con­ve­nience this case has caused.”

Ac­cord­ing to the CFDA re­port, tests found the se­le­nium con­tent in one batch of Al­fare was 0.43 mi­cro­grams per 100 kilo­Joules, while the other had 0.46 mcg per 100 kJ. Both amounts were lower than the 0.70 mcg per 100 kJ stip­u­lated on the la­bel.

In­fant food prod­ucts for spe­cial med­i­cal pur­poses are for­mu­lated for in­fants who suf­fer from gas­troin­testi­nal dys­func­tion or food al­ler­gies, or if their mothers don’t have enough breast milk. The mar­ket for such prod­ucts has grown rapidly in re­cent years, said Wang Ding­mian, for­mer deputy di­rec­tor of the Guangzhou Dairy In­dus­try Man­age­ment Of­fice.

“Al­though the dif­fer­ence in the amount of the trace el­e­ments can be triv­ial, the com­pa­nies should be very strict with the stan­dards, as these ba­bies are spe­cial and it can be their only food be­fore they are 6 months old,” he said.

Con­sumers asked the com­pany to ex­plain and to pro­vide com­pen­sa­tion.

“The can of in­fant for­mula costs around 350 yuan ($51.80), much more ex­pen­sive than or­di­nary prod­ucts,” said Li Ai­wei, a 33-year-old mother in Shang­hai.

“As an in­dus­try be­he­moth, Nes­tle is cheat­ing con­sumers since the ac­tual amount is only two-thirds of its la­bel dec­la­ra­tion, which is no dif­fer­ent from ques­tion­able lesser brands,” she said.

Wang Zhuoqiong in Bei­jing con­trib­uted to this story.

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