Business / Companies

Ferrero accused of Kinder safety violation, but German agency gives OK

By Zhu Wenqian (China Daily) Updated: 2016-07-19 08:12

Ferrero accused of Kinder safety violation, but German agency gives OK

A customer shops near a display of Ferrero Rocher chocolates in a supermarket at the Neglinnaya Plaza shopping center in Moscow, Russia. [Photo/Agencies]

Italian chocolatier Ferrero International SA, the world's third-largest chocolate maker, said it guarantees its products are safe for consumers even though Foodwatch, a private German food watchdog, claimed that Ferrero chocolate bars contain a potentially dangerous chemical.

The Association of the German Confectionary Agency, however, said consumers have no reason to panic and can still purchase the Kinder products, as the chemicals were only found in the packaging, as a result of recycled paper being used.

Foodwatch claimed this month that it has identified the presence of mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons in Kinder bars, a signature product of Ferrero. The chemical is thought to have cancer-causing effects, The Sun reported.

Ferrero said in its statement that they comply fully with the food safety requirements of all the countries where they are marketed and that all Ferrero packaging fully complies with applicable legislation on materials that contact food.

"Although the recently raised issue of mineral oil traces in food products has been known to the competent authorities and the food industry for several years, there is as yet no specific food safety regulation regarding this matter," the company said in its statement.

Zhou Jie, communication director of Ferrero China, said: "The chemical found on the wrapping comes from the printing on the package and the content is very low. It doesn't have any negative impact on human bodies."

"Actually, minimal traces of mineral oils occur everywhere in the environment. The German government regards the chocolate bar as safe and it didn't require us to pull the products off the shelves. German officials said there is no need to be alarmed," she said.

In fact, discussions about mineral oil in food products have been going on for years. According to research by the European Food Safety Authority in 2012, nearly all food contains some saturated hydrocarbon of mineral oil. Confectionary, canned fish, nuts and ice cream have higher concentrations.

Zhu Yi, a food science professor at China Agricultural University, said: "Currently, we can only say that aromatic hydrocarbon mineral oil may have a potential health harm for people. But, there is no research to prove whether low-content substances have any impact on human bodies."

Ferrero currently claims a commanding 24 percent of the Chinese chocolate confectionery market, according to The Nielsen Co, the global marketing research firm.

In October, the company launched its first East Asian factory in Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province, with $300 million, its biggest investment ever.

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