Swedish furniture giant Ikea pulled a batch of almond cakes from its restaurants in 23 countries on Tuesday after Chinese authorities said they contained coliform bacteria, normally present in faecal matter.
The Swedish-made cakes had failed tests "for containing an excessive level of coliform bacteria, according to the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine," the Shanghai Daily website wrote.
Ikea said 1,800 Taarta Chokladkrokant cakes -- described on its website as an almond cake with chocolate, butter cream and butterscotch -- were destroyed in December after being intercepted by Chinese customs.
"These cakes never reached our stores," said Ikea spokeswoman Ylva Magnusson.
"There are indications that the levels of bacteria found are low but we obviously have to know the exact amount, and find out how this happened," she added.
A microbiologist at the Swedish National Food Agency, Mats Lindblad, said coliform bacteria "could be an indication of faecal contamination though not always".
He said the bacteria were normally not dangerous for consumers.
Ikea last week pulled its trademark meatballs off the shelves in 25 countries after Czech authorities found traces of horse DNA in a batch of one-kilogramme (2.2-pound) bags of frozen meatballs.
"It's very important to us that the products our customers buy are safe and secure to use and to eat," Magnusson said.