Unilever has become the latest food group to be caught up in China's melamine scandal with the recall of a batch of Lipton-branded tea powders.

The Anglo-Dutch consumer goods group said it had found melamine, a industrial chemical that has sickened thousands of Chinese children, in batches of tea powder exported to Hong Kong. Unilever has recalled four batches of the powder.

The move is a further sign of the effect that the melamine contamination has had on some of the world's largest food manufacturers - and not just Chinese dairy firms.

Earlier this week, Cadbury recalled 11 products made in China and distributed to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia following tests on products made its plant in Beijing.

Last week, Heinz recalled 270 cases of baby food on sale in Hong Kong after traces of melamine were found in a batch of the products. The US food giant has since said it would stop using Chinese milk.

A spokesman for Unilever, which had been sourcing milk from Europe and New Zealand for use in its tea powders until May, said the company would switch back to using supplies from outside China.

The spokesman said Unilever would use milk sourced from outside China for milk-based products made locally but destined for export markets.

He added, however, that Unilever would use milk powder from China for products on sale within the country.

"We have tested all the products in China that could possible affected and they are okay," the spokesman told just-food today (1 October).