Chinese store shelves were emptied of some of the country’s most popular dairy brands on Friday, as shoppers vented their fury amid a snowballing crisis over the poisoning of the nation’s milk supplies.
The government ordered a mass recall of dairy products after authorities revealed that an industrial chemical initially reported to be only in milk powder had also been detected in regular milk, yoghurt and ice cream.
“All problem products have been banned from our stores,” said executive at Jian-Mart, a popular supermarket chain.
Authorities initially blamed the chemical, melamine, for killing four babies and sickening more than 6,000 others, with symptoms including kidney stones, being unable to pass urine, and vomiting.
But there were fears the problem could be much bigger after other dairy products were found to be at risk of contamination.
Only black coffee was being served at some Starbucks outlets after the government identified one of its main suppliers, Mengniu, as having tainted milk.
A Starbucks spokeswoman in Shanghai and a waiter in one of its Beijing outlets confirmed milk was not on the menu.
“We had to stop serving it today because the milk is being inspected. We have to wait for the results,” the waiter told AFP.
Mengniu, Yili and Guangming — three of the biggest brands — were named by the government on Thursday night as having melamine in some of their regular milk.