(Adds statement from Nestle, Mars)
SEOUL, Oct 4 (Reuters) - South Korea's food watchdog has ordered China-manufactured snacks from Nestle SA NESN.VX and Mars Inc to be taken off shelves after detecting melamine in their samples, it said on Saturday.
The Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) said 2.38 parts per million (ppm) and 1.78 ppm of the substance were found in M&M’s milk chocolate snack and Snickers peanut Fun Size, both produced by Mars and manufactured in China.
“We are urgently recalling the products due to melamine detection,” KFDA said in a statement.
Mars said it was temporarily withdrawing the products from the Korean market because it was legally obliged to do so and that the melamine levels announced by the KFDA did not pose a health risk.
Kit Kat bars from Nestle were also found carrying 2.89 ppm of melamine, bringing the total number of melamine-detected items to 10 in Seoul.
Nestle said the KFDA asked it to withdraw one batch of mini Kit Kat made in China from the market, after their tests detected minute traces of melamine in a single batch out of eight Nestle confectionery items tested. No melamine was detected in the other seven products, the company said.
“The company immediately complied with the authorities’ request, even though this product is absolutely safe by recognized international standards,” Nestle said in a statement.
“South Korea has no regulations on maximum levels of melamine in food, and the conditions under which the South Korean authorities conducted their tests are unclear,” it added. Melamine, widely used in kitchen utensils, can pose serious health risks if consumed in large quantities. At least four children in China died after drinking tainted infant milk formula last month.
KFDA said it is currently examining 428 processed products manufactured in China. It had completed checks on 288 items as of Saturday. (Reporting by Angela Moon; Additional reporting by Sam Cage in Zurich; Editing by Louise Ireland and Ruth Pitchford)
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