The contaminated batches were distributed in Hong Kong and Macau, and are described as follows:
- Lipton Milk Tea Powder Original: 17g x 20 sachets, best before date 17112009
- Lipton Milk Tea Powder Gold: 18.5g x 10 sachets, best before date 17112009
- Lipton Milk Tea Powder Gold: 18.5g x 20 sachets, best before date 18112009
- Lipton Milk Tea Powder Gold: 18.5g x 20 sachets, best before date 19112009
Hong Kong's Centre for Food Safety has indicated that it will sample the products and carry out its own melamine testing. Meanwhile, the agency has asked retailers to withdraw the products from sale and is advising consumers not to drink the implicated Lipton tea powders.
While Lipton has become enmeshed in the melamine affair, Cadbury appears to have been reprieved.
We reported yesterday that Cadbury had ordered a precautionary recall of eleven products made in its Beijing, China facility after preliminary tests indicated possible contamination with melamine. The chocolates were exported to Hong Kong, Australia and Taiwan.
But an Associated Press report carried this morning by USA Today indicates that the Centre for Food Safety has not found melamine in the Cadbury chocolates. Why the confusion?
As with many analytical programs, melamine testing is probably carried out in two steps. First, samples can be screened using a rapid test based on an immunoassay. These tests are relatively easy to perform, are less expensive, allow most "clean" products to be identified quickly. Then, samples that test positive using the immunoassay test would be retested using a more accurate "gold standard" method based on chromatography.
We don't know whether that's what happened with Cadbury, but it's a feasible explanation. The company made an ethically appropriate decision to issue a precautionary recall based on the preliminary result, knowing that its reputation could be damaged. Cadbury management should be applauded for that decision, made in the best interests of its customers.