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Nestle expresses apology on excess iodine content
By Qin Yan (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-06-07 05:40

Nestle issued an apology on Sunday for excess iodine levels found in its milk powder products.

The company stressed the affected milk, detected on May 25, had already been withdrawn from sale and said the high iodine levels were not a threat to public safety.

"We apologize for the mistake in deviating from the National Standard regarding the content of iodine in some Nestle milk-based powder products," the company said in its Sunday's statement.

"While there is no safety or health issue, we recognize that this deviation has caused some concerns amongst consumers and the public at large."

According to its statement, Nestle has increased the frequency of iodine testing to ensure its products comply with the national standard.

But critics said the apology was too little, too late and some Chinese media reports attacked the company for only offering customers a product exchange rather than a full refund.

Lawyer Qiu Baochang, legal consultant for the China Consumers' Association, was quoted by the Beijing Youth Daily yesterday as saying that the apology was a "late response" under pressure from the public.

Qiu said Nestle should go further and, for example, pay for consumers' expenses incurred when travelling to exchange products.

A May 25 survey by quality inspection authorities in East China's Zhejiang Province showed the "Jin Pai Growing 3-Milk Powder" exceeded national standards for iodine content.

China's national standard requires that 100 grams of milk powder for infants and young children contain 30-150 micrograms of iodine.

But the Nestle product, produced in September, 2004, was found to contain about 191 micrograms of iodine per 100 grams.

The affected milk powder, totalling 13.5 tons, was mainly sold in Zhejiang Province's Hangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province's Guangzhou, and Shanghai, according to China Central Television.

(China Daily 06/07/2005 page2)

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