Candy with chemical in Chinese milk found in Conn.

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- An industrial chemical blamed for sickening thousands of infants in China has been found in candy on American shelves.

Connecticut consumer protection Commissioner Jerry Farrell Jr. said Wednesday that tests on White Rabbit Creamy Candy found melamine.

The vanilla-flavored candy has been found in stores in Connecticut. It was imported from China and sold primarily at Asian markets, Farrell said.

Information on exactly the candy was discovered was not immediately available. A call was placed with Farrell's office seeking comment.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended last week that consumers not eat White Rabbit candy and that retailers remove it; several other countries have made the same move. Queensway Foods Company Inc. of California distributed the candy and has recalled it.

Melamine is used in plastics manufacturing and has been associated with contaminated infant formula and other Chinese products containing milk protein.

The contamination has been blamed for the deaths of four children and kidney ailments among 54,000 others. More than 13,000 children have been hospitalized and 27 people arrested in connection with the contamination.

Melamine, which is high in nitrogen, is used to make plastics and fertilizers and experts say some amount of the chemical may be transferred from the environment during food processing. But in China's case, suppliers trying to boost output are believed to have diluted their milk, adding melamine because its nitrogen content can fool tests aimed at verifying protein content.

Melamine can cause kidney stones, leading to kidney failure. Infants are particularly vulnerable.

On Wednesday, the Chinese government identified 15 more Chinese dairy companies as producing milk products contaminated with melamine, bringing the total to 20 companies. At least 100 batches of milk powder have been found to contain the chemical, according to data on China's food safety administration's Web site.

White Rabbit candy has already been pulled from shelves in Asia and Britain, and tests in Singapore and New Zealand last week found White Rabbit sweets tainted with melamine. The Shanghai-based maker of the candy, Guan Sheng Yuan Co., said last week it was halting production of the sticky, taffy-like confection, an iconic brand beloved by generations of Chinese.

The candy is sold in more than 50 countries throughout the world, including most of the Chinatowns in the United States. Overseas sales have reached $160 million over the past five years.

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