Published: September 29, 2008
Source of Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/30/world/asia/30milk.html?em
The announcement, carried by the official Xinhua News Agency, was the third regarding a mass detention of suspects in the contamination, which has sickened more than 50,000 children, caused the deaths of at least four from kidney stones, and led to recalls of products in China and abroad suspected of containing adulterated Chinese milk powder.
On Sept. 14, the government said 19 people had been detained, and on Sept. 19 it reported the detention of 12 more. The government did not explain in the Monday announcement how many suspects in all had been detained in the investigation, or whether some had been included in the earlier announcements.
The announcement said police officers in northern China, the nation’s biggest dairy production area, had raided more than 40 dairy farms and milk stations in Hebei Province and seized more than 220 kilograms, or 485 pounds, of melamine, a chemical commonly used to make plastics and fertilizer. Melamine can also be used to illegally inflate the nutrition value of foods by fooling testers measuring protein levels.
The government accused the group of operating as
a kind of criminal syndicate, producing melamine in underground factories and
then marketing it to dairy farms and milking stations in
The announcement was the government’s latest effort to calm fears after some of the nation’s biggest dairy producers had been blamed for selling infant milk formula adulterated with melamine to save money.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao vowed to strengthen regulation and clean up the nation’s $18 billion dairy industry, which had been booming in recent years because of government-backed efforts to get children to consume more milk.
Over the past week, a growing number of global
companies have been drawn into the scandal after tests showed that some of
their foods had also been produced with melamine-tainted milk products
On Monday, Cadbury PLC, one of the world’s biggest
confectioners, said that some of the chocolate it sells in
“We have been monitoring the developing situation
with regard to the contamination of dairy products with melamine in
Most of China’s dairy exports are shipped to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan and other parts of Asia, though in an increasingly globalized world, some goods made with Chinese dairy products could also easily end up in the United States and Europe, which has led regulators there to issue warnings.
Since announcing last week that about 53,000 children had been affected by melamine-tainted dairy goods, the Chinese government has not updated the number of victims, nor has it held a news conference in recent days detailing its findings.
But in recent days the government has tried to assure consumers that the country’s dairy supply is safe, reporting that hundreds of tests conducted after Sept. 14 and involving some of the biggest dairy makers had not detected melamine.
Melamine is the same chemical blamed last year
for sickening thousands of pets in the
On Monday, the government said one suspect had admitted producing melamine as “protein powder” since last year, and another had admitted helping sell the powder to milking stations.
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