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September 7, 2012

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Twinings tea among products failing tests

TWININGS tea, Yoplait yoghurt and Nestle vegetable mash sold in Shanghai were among the latest products destroyed or returned by China's quality watchdog, it said yesterday.

Six black tea products of Twinings, about 1,872 tons in total, failed tests for excessive amount of rare earth elements, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said.

The packs of tea bags were imported in July by Shanghai Associated British Foods & Beverages Ltd from Twinings' Polish subsidiary. They had been returned to Poland, the administration said.

Experts said excessive rare earth elements in tea are probably the result of soil conditions. Pesticide residue can also be to blame in some cases.

An excess in food can lead to a deterioration of liver and kidney function and affect the nervous system, said Fu Liang, director of the food research center with Jinan University in the southern city of Guangzhou.

A Shanghai spokeswoman for Associated British Foods, which owns Twinings, said the company had stepped up checks on products to ensure they met Chinese standards.

A batch of green tea produced by Rington's Tea Ltd and imported by Marks & Spencer's Shanghai subsidiary was also on the list.

A total of 14 yoghurt products from Yoplait France imported to Shanghai were destroyed because they had expired.

More than five tons of Gerber mixed vegetable mash made by Nestle Hong Kong Ltd and imported to Shanghai were found to have labeling problems and were destroyed.

The products were among 297 imported food and cosmetic items found to be substandard in July. They included beverages, chocolate, biscuits, baby formula, cakes, snacks, tomato sauce and wine. They had either expired, had excessive bacteria, copper or methanol, registered high acid levels or had labeling problems, the administration said.

Among other products found substandard were some sauces produced by Italy's Le Conserve della Nonna. They contained too much sulfur dioxide, which can lead to vomiting if large amounts are consumed.

Biscuits from Bangkok Bliss Co Ltd were found to have excessive benzoic acid, which can cause liver damage, and cereal bars from Weetabix Limited were found with mold.


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