A Nestlé milk product is being withdrawn from Hong Kong supermarkets after authorities detected tiny amounts of the chemical melamine.

Melamine, used in producing plastics, is at the centre of a China-wide safety scare after four babies died from consuming milk powder contaminated with the chemical. Almost 13,000 infants are in hospital and more than 100 are still seriously ill after drinking the milk formula, China's ministry of health said yesterday (21 September).

Several Asian countries have now banned Chinese milk products or started their own tests on the products. Hong Kong's Centre for Food Safety said yesterday that Nestlé Dairy Farm Pure Milk for catering use, produced by Nestlé China, contained a melamine level of 1.4 ppm.

"Based on the low level detected, normal consumption will not pose major health effects. However, it is not advisable for small children to consume the milk product," a spokesman said.

Nestlé spokeswoman Nina Backes said the firm has been asked to recall the product even though "there is absolutely no health risk for consumers".

"The melamine level is 25 times lower than the EU standard but the problem is that Hong Kong has no official limits for melamine in food," she told just-food. "We hope they will soon issue new legislation that sets limits for food. The product will then go back on the shelf."

Nestlé has a 4% share of the Greater China dairy market.