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Nestle recalls baby milk in Europenews
Our Corporate Bureau
24 November 2005

Swiss food giant Nestle, one of the largest producers of baby foods in the world, has recalled its baby milk product from France, Spain, Portugal and Italy due to possible chemical contamination with a printing ink chemical - isopropyl thioxanthone (ITX). Italian police have seized several million litres of the product from shops and depots, after traces of the photographic chemical used in the printing on the tetrapack milk cartons were found in some samples. Of the four countries Italy is the largest market for Nestle.

According to the Italian forestry service, whose responsibilities include food safety, the products being impounded were marketed under the brand names of Nidina1 and 2, Latte Mio and Mio Cereali. A spokeswoman said the sequestration order, issued by a prosecutor in the east coast town of Ascoli, only affected cartons with an expiry date of September 2006, except in the case of Nidina 1, on which the expiry date was May 2006.

Nestle has denied that the chemical poses a health risk and its chairman and CEO Peter Brabeck dismissed the recall as a "storm in a teacup" in Zurich on Wednesday. He also told journalists that traces of ink from the Tetra Pak packaging, posed "no risk to safety." According to a statement from Nestle, "This decision was taken as extreme precautionary measure to reassure consumers." The company has recalled the cartons with an expiry date of September 2006. Nestlé said that a week ago it had begun withdrawing "all liquid infant formula milks packed in offset printed cartons". Nidina 1 is for babies, whereas Nidina 2 and Latte Mio are for infants of more than six months, a spokeswoman said.

In Spain a Nestlé spokesman confirmed yesterday, however, that "to maximise guarantees to the consumer" it had ordered the withdrawal of three types of baby milk with use-by dates previous to June or August 2006.

The scare began in September when a sample of liquid baby milk produced by Nestle showed traces of ITX, which the Italian authorities say could be toxic. These had revealed traces of ITX and set off the investigation that led to yesterday''s nationwide operation. On September 8, Italy issued a notification to other EU states through the so-called Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed, informing them of ITX seepage in a packet made in Spain. According to the European food safety authority, notifications of this sort are issued "when immediate action is required".

ITX is subject to strict handling precautions. One manufacturer''s website recommends the wearing of "chemical safety goggles, compatible chemical-resistant gloves and [a] respirator". It says those dealing with ITX should avoid inhalation, contact with eyes, skin and clothing and prolonged or repeated exposure, and should wash thoroughly after handling it.

A company spokesman in Switzerland said a new packaging process had been put in place to prevent contamination. Nestle is the world''s largest food company, maker of KitKat chocolate wafers and Nescafe coffee, and one of the largest makers of baby food.

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Nestle recalls baby milk in Europe