Lead scare causes Heinz recall of infant cereal products in China
US-based food manufacturer H.J. Heinz Co. (Heinz) has said it will tighten controls over ingredients suppliers in China after it was forced to recall some infant food products from stores in China because of excess levels of lead in the products.
Heinz told global media organisation Reuters on Monday that it had recalled four batches of its AD Calcium Hi-Protein Cereal for infants after a food watchdog in eastern China found levels of the toxic heavy metal above regulation standards. The cereal is aimed at infants aged between six months and three years.
The Zhejiang Food and Drug Administration said the problem affected 1,472 boxes of cereal in the province and that Heinz had told the agency it would destroy another 153 boxes that are sealed in a warehouse in the southern city of Guangzhou.
Heinz said that the high lead level was caused “accidentally” by a supplier who had provided a skimmed soybean powder ingredient used in the batch of cereal. The Company said it would compensate any consumers who had bought the affected product.
Heinz said it would draft stricter systems for regulating ingredient suppliers and improve traceability and food safety control measures along its supply chain.
The Company, known globally for its ketchup and baked beans, made the announcement as it sought to contain the potential damage to its reputation in a country where consumers are highly sensitive to food safety after a series of high-profile scares.
Consumers in China are especially concerned about contaminants in baby products after powdered milk tainted with the industrial chemical melamine led to the deaths of at least six infants in 2008. Supply chains issues in China have come under increased scrutiny, with KFC-parent Yum Brands Inc, Wal-Mart Stores Inc and McDonald’s Corp all recently facing food safety issues with suppliers.