Monday, 15 Sep, 2008 Offbeat

Tainted Milk Kills Another Chinese Baby


The scandal with the tainted milk formula started shortly after it lead to the death of two babies in China. Another baby recently died in Gansu province, located in the northwest, after taking the infant powder milk developed by the Sanlu Group.

According to Xinhua news agency, 500 babies in China fell ill from the tainted milk powder, 102 of which were from the poor region.

Last week Sanlu was ordered to halt the production of the milk. It is worth mentioning that 43 percent of the company belongs to Fonterra, a dairy giant from New Zealand.

After several investigations is was discovered that the milk contains the chemical melamine that caused kidney stones in babies. It is believed that farmers or dealers who supplied the milk to Sanlu diluted the powder with water and then added melamine, a chemical used in plastics, fertilizers and cleaning products. The chemical was added to increase the level of proteins in the milk.

According to New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, certain actions were taken by the local Chinese officials only after the government of New Zealand got in touch with the government in Beijing.

"They have been trying for weeks to get official recall and the local authorities in China would not do it. I think the first inclination was to try and put a towel over it and deal with it without an official recall," the Prime Minister said.

For the first time Chinese media reported about the tainted powder milk that made babies fell ill on September 10 and on September 11 the producer issued a recall of its products made prior to August 6. But the company started receiving customer complaints back in March. Customers reported that babies' urine was discolored and they were admitted to hospital.

Officials from the New Zealand company mentioned that in August the company was told that its partner in China was selling tainted milk and Fronterra looked forward to meet with the government of China to discuss the problem.

Most of babies who fell ill after consuming the milk were from poor areas and it was not for the first time that families living in poor Chinese regions have been infected by milk powder. Four years ago 13 babies died in Anhui after consuming the tainted milk powder, which, according to investigators, had zero nutritional value. Melamine was the cause of thousands of deaths among cats and dogs in the United States in 2007 after the chemical was added to pet food components that came from China.

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