Nestle has launched an investigation into its milk products, after a type of baby powder sold in Chinese supermarkets failed to meet national standards over iodine content, reports Claire Johnston.
One of Nestle's best selling Chinese milk powders was found to contain too much iodine, according to a survey conducted by quality inspection authorities in Zhejiang Province.
"This is the first time we have found milk powder containing excessive iodine in recent years," said Bian Yuyang, an official from the Zhejiang Administration of Industry and Commerce.
Chinese standards state that every 100 grams of milk powder, for infants and young children, is allowed to contain 30-150 micrograms of iodine; the content of iodine found in Nestle's Jin Pai Growing 3-Milk Powder was slightly higher than the 150 mg maximum.
A statement issued by Shuang Cheng Nestle Co Ltd, claims that there is no need for panic as the powdered milk complies with International Food Standards. However the international food giant is still concerned and has started to conduct examinations of the products, and the raw materials used by the Heilongjiang-based Nestle plant, to find a reason for the failure.
Despite Nestle claiming that the milk powder is still safe for consumption, experts say that infants and children may suffer from goitre, a condition caused by a deficiency or an excess of iodine.
Food researcher Ding Yuting, from Zhejiang University of Technology believes there is no cause for alarm, "Consumers have no need to panic because whether the milk powder will cause goitre or not depends on the total amount absorbed daily".
"If children suffer from goitre after consuming the milk powder, they should stop taking it", Ding said.
The statement released by Nestle says that the milk powder is still safe and that the situation is thought to have been caused by fluctuations of iodine contained in fresh milk, the main ingredient of Jin Pai Growing 3-Milk Powder.
"We always try our best to ensure Nestle products' high quality and safety," said a Nestle spokesperson.
However despite the assurance from Nestle, officials from the Provincial Administration of Industry and Commerce have already pulled the milk powder from supermarkets shelves.