Food giant Nestlé has quietly removed Findus pear baby purée from the shelves of Danish and Swedish supermarkets.

Last week, Swedish authorities banned sales of the product after tests found an unacceptable level of chlormequat, a chemical sprayed onto wheat to prevent it growing too high.

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Nestle S.A.

The baby purée contained 0.96mg of chlormequat per kilo, however on 1 July this year the acceptable level dropped from 3mg to 0.5mg per kilo.

The products were manufactured in May 2001, before the new levels came into operation, but the expiry date on the batch was 1 July 2002.

Peter Vogt, deputy MD in Denmark, told Danish daily Berlingske Tidende that Nestlé did not know about the new rules until June this year, and immediately adjusted production. “Normally we get a longer warning period, but we have done what the Swedish authorities have demanded and withdrawn the product anyway.”

Nestlé also withdrew the product in Denmark after an employee contacted the Danish food authorities. Sweden had failed to use the new EU Rapid Alert System to inform the Danish authorities about the problem.

Arne Andersen, of the Swedish food authority, stressed there is no danger to consumers because the level of chlormequat set is very low. Next year however, permitted levels of pesticides and chemicals will be even lower with new EU rules applying after 1st July 2002 permitting a total of just 0.01mg per kilo.

By Penny Leese, correspondant

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