Heinz stops buying Chinese milk products

WASHINGTON (AFP) — US food group Heinz said Tuesday that it had decided to stop buying Chinese milk for use in its products there in the wake of a giant tainted milk scandal that has left 53,000 children ill.

"In order to reassure consumers about the safety of Heinz products, Heinz has made the strategic decision to switch our milk supply in China and Hong Kong to non-Chinese sources and we are testing all dairy ingredients for melamine prior to use in our factories," a spokesman for the company said.

China has launched a probe following the discovery of melamine added to milk apparently to make watered-down milk appear richer in protein.

Four babies have died in mainland China after drinking milk containing melamine, while another 53,000 have been sickened, many with kidney stones and related problems.

Anglo-Dutch food group Unilever announced Tuesday it was recalling brands of Lipton milk tea powder in Hong Kong and Macau after testing showed them tainted with melamine which is normally used to make plastics.