(Associated Press –
The Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Quality and Technical
Supervision said Thursday in a one-sentence statement that the bureau was
looking into "the quality and safety of Dumex
milk powder" but did not give other details. The Mengniu
Dairy Group Co. is being investigated by
The official Xinhua News Agency said that investigations into Danone's Dumex were centered on whether the company produced infant formula contaminated with melamine, an industrial chemical used in the manufacture of plastics and fertilizer.
Last year, at least six Chinese babies died and nearly
300,000 were sickened with kidney stones and other problems by milk tainted
with the chemical. The scandal, one of the worst food contamination crises to
Recurring problems of contamination indicate that a lax inspection regime still exists, despite repeated promises by the central government to step up product safety monitoring.
Xinhua said the Dumex investigation was triggered by overseas media reports last month that some four dozen babies suffered kidney-related illnesses after drinking the company's milk. It did not identify the reports.
Radio Free Asia, a U.S.-funded radio station, said on its
Web site that the baby of a woman in southwestern
In a statement posted on its Chinese-language Web site, Dumex said there was "no evidence pointing to Dumex products as the cause of any illness."
"We guarantee all consumers that all Dumex products produced and sold in mainland
The company said that after the milk scandal erupted last September, government-certified laboratories conducted spot checks on 2,651 batches of Dumex products made since April 2007. None were found to be contaminated with melamine, it said.
The additive called OMP, a milk protein, is found only in Mengniu's Telunsu line. The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said results would be published at a later date.
Mengniu says OMP -- or osteoblast milk protein -- aides the absorption of calcium and promotes bone growth. It is commonly used in other countries under the name "Milk Basic Protein" or MBP, Mengniu said.
"The safety of MBP has been recognized by authoritative international organizations," a Mengniu statement said without giving more details.
Tatua Co-Operative Dairy Company, a New Zealand dairy company that supplies OMP protein ingredients to Mengniu, said Thursday that it was "utterly confident" the Chinese investigation would find no issues and that the additional testing was routine.
Last year's milk scandal, over nitrogen-rich melamine that was added to milk to fool protein tests, also exposed loose controls over large companies like Mengniu and Yili Industrial Group Co., whose products were recalled.
Both were exempt from government inspections under waivers given to companies deemed to have proper quality controls. Those waivers were scrapped after the scandal erupted.
Sanlu Group Co., the dairy at the center of the crisis, was declared bankrupt on Thursday, state media reported. 2-12-09
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