China - The government is deeply concerned by reports that some Filipino students have fallen ill after eating Chinese-made milk candies, the spokesman of the Ministry of Commerce said.

A special team of food safety experts will be sent to the Philippines if necessary to assist in the investigation, the spokesman said.

He declined to reveal the name of the candies.

Some 23 schoolchildren fell ill on Thursday after eating milk candies imported from China and were sent to hospital in Cebu, the Philippines, according to local reports. They were all discharged a day later, reports said.

Pending the results of the investigation into the incident, local stores have been asked to temporarily stop selling the candies.

In response, the Chinese government directed its Cebu consulate to immediately look into the matter and submit a report.

Late last month, the Philippines banned the sale of imported Chinese food products at school canteens in response to reports that the goods contained cancer-causing formaldehyde.

Among the products tested by the top food watchdog in the Philippines and found to contain formaldehyde were White Rabbit milk candies and Yong Kang Foods grape biscuits.

Formaldehyde, a colorless, flammable gas, has been classified as a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research and as a probable human carcinogen by the US Environmental Protection [Agency].