In a statement, Pennsylvania-based chocolate giant Hershey confirmed reports that a shipment of Hershey’s flavored milk, manufactured under license by Utah-based Gossner Foods, was refused entry into China in June 2014 by customs officials in Guangdong.
The shipment of Hershey’s Strawberry Milk and Hershey’s White Chocolate Milk was held by Chinese officials after it was discovered that the products contain stevia and a food coloring called Red 40.
While “permitted in other foods and certain beverages in China” Red 40 and stevia are seemingly not approved for use in milk.
Shanghai Daily reported that the 4.5 tonne shipment had been destroyed by customs officials in Guangdong.
In response to the Chinese customs action, the Hershey Company has suspended all shipments from the US to China of Hershey brand products manufactured by “authorized US licensee” Gossner Foods.
“All shipments of Hershey-branded products from the United States to China from this licensee have been suspended,” said the Hershey statement.
The destroyed shipment of shelf-stable Hershey's flavored milk, packed in 8oz Tetra Prisma Aseptic cartons, were manufactured by Gossner Foods under license at its Logan, Utah UHT milk plant.
Speaking with DairyReporter.com, Jeff Beckman, director of corporate communications, Hershey, said the decision to temporarily halt shipments from the US to China was joint one.
“The licensing agreement is with Gossner Foods and they manufacture the Hershey’s licensed milk beverages,” said Beckman.
“Working with Gossner, we mutually agreed to suspend shipments to China.”
In the meantime, the company said it will continue to “work hard to abide by all food regulations.”
“We will continue to ensure that third parties import only Hershey-branded products into China that meet China’s standards and regulations," said the Hershey statement.
Pressed by DairyReporter.com, Beckman declined to discuss whether Gossner Foods will reformulate its licensed Hershey’s Milk products to make them China-friendly.
“I can’t speculate at this point in time,” said Beckman.