TAIPEI?Taiwan's health minister said Thursday six Nestlé milk products were banned from sale after they were found to contain melamine.
"The products from (the Chinese province of) Heilongjiang tested positive for very low levels of melamine and (were) removed from the shelves," said the minister, Yeh Ching-chuan.
The tainted items, manufactured by Heilongjiang-based Shuangcheng Nestlé Co and sold under the labels Nestlé and Klim, include formulas for children and milk products for the elderly, according to the health department.
However, the department assured the public that tiny levels of melamine found in the products would not pose health risks.
Nestlé Taiwan on Thursday stressed that melamine was not added to its products and attributed the traces found to those existing in the environment.
"We are complying with the authorities to remove the products from shelves but we reiterate that our products are not adulterated with melamine," Nestlé spokesman Liang Chia-ruei told reporters.
The Swiss food giant criticized Taiwanese government's move.
"Nestlé ... fails to understand why the authorities are asking Nestlé to temporarily delist these products, which by their own admission, are absolutely safe by any recognized international standards," said a company statement.
It said the levels of melamine found in the products were "so minute that they are almost certainly present in any food product anywhere in the world."
All Nestlé 's China-produced dairy products had passed Taiwan health authorities' food safety standards but six of them failed to pass the tightened controls which Nestlé said were up to 50 times below the accepted international standard.
Nestlé Taiwan said the government's wayward measures would cost them at least one billion Taiwan dollars (31.15 million US)
Taiwan's health department plans to solve the test standard dispute by holding a panel of discussions in the near future to be attended by experts from here, the World Health Organization, the United States, Japan, and the European Union.
The Nestlé products were added to a growing list of tainted Chinese-made dairy products found on the island including milk, creamers, instant coffee, soups and sweets.
Taiwan has banned all Chinese dairy imports and ordered those products already imported to be tested for traces of melamine.
Around 10 percent of Taiwan's imported milk powder came from China and authorities here have seized nearly 10 tons of formula produced by Sanlu Group, the Chinese company originally at the centre of the health scare.
A Taiwanese hospital last week said three toddlers and one woman have developed kidney stones after drinking tainted Chinese milk products, in the island's first confirmed cases.
Yeh, a public health expert best known for leading Taipei through the SARS crisis in 2003 as the capital's deputy mayor, took over as health minister after her predecessor Lin Fang-yue resigned over the contaminated milk scandal.
Four children have died in China and 53,000 were sickened after consuming milk products laced with melamine.