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Japan recalls sweets in melamine scandal

  • Story Highlights
  • Japanese company recalls 5 products after finding they contained melamine
  • Chemical blamed for deaths of four children in China, thousands sickened
  • Food safety authorities around the globe pull candies from shelves
  • EU announces a ban on imports of baby food containing Chinese milk
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TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- A Japanese food corporation has recalled five products after determining they contained the chemical melamine that has been blamed for the deaths of four children and sickening thousands of others.

Officials stresses though that there were no reports of anyone becoming ill from consuming the sweets, which were made with ingredients imported from China, according to a representative of Tokyo's Marudai Food. The recall was issued several days ago.

Tests found a ratio of 37 milligrams of melamine per kilogram of the products, the company said Friday.

Japan is the latest country to report products tainted with melamine after thousands of Chinese children fell ill. The illnesses were traced to infant formula to which the toxic chemical had been added in Chinese dairy plants.

Nearly 53,000 children in China have been sickened by the formula or other products containing melamine. Four babies have died, and five Hong Kong children have suffered melamine-related illnesses. Dozens of countries have banned or recalled Chinese milk products. Video Watch how the scandal has spread beyond milk »

Hong Kong officials said Friday that a type of Heinz cereal and wasabi crackers were recalled after they were found to contain excessive melamine. Test results for another 40 samples of baby food are pending, said Hong Kong's Centre for Food Safety.

Earlier Friday, the maker of a widely distributed Chinese candy linked to the melamine scandal said it would stop selling the confection in China. The manufacturer, Guanshengyan, had already recalled exports of White Rabbit Creamy Candies, and food-safety authorities worldwide have pulled them from shelves.

On Thursday, the European Union joined authorities worldwide in banning the import of Chinese milk products for children.

Chinese authorities have arrested 18 people in a nationwide investigation. They include two brothers who face charges of selling contaminated milk; the brothers could face death if convicted, according to China Daily, a state-run newspaper. Video Watch Chinese government reaction »

The raw milk used to produce powdered baby formula had been watered down, and the chemical melamine was added so it would pass quality checks, the newspaper said. Adding melamine makes a product seem to have a higher protein level.

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Melamine is commonly used in coatings and laminates, wood adhesives, fabric coatings, ceiling tiles and flame retardants. It is the same industrial contaminant that was found last year in pet food produced in China that poisoned and killed thousands of U.S. dogs and cats. Video Watch the fallout from the scandal »

Health experts say ingesting melamine can lead to kidney stones, urinary tract ulcers, and eye and skin irritation. It also robs infants of much-needed nutrition.

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