Beleaguered Chinese dairies pledge high standards
(Associated Press –
By HENRY SANDERSON
Officials in the major dairy-producing region of
The move is the latest attempt to contain the fallout
after baby formula contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine was
blamed for causing the deaths of four infants and sickening about 54,000
other children in mainland
The Health Ministry said Wednesday that 5,800 children were still hospitalized, six in serious condition.
Chinese authorities have blamed dairy suppliers for the food safety scandal that began last month, saying they added melamine to watered-down milk to fool quality control tests and make the product appear rich in protein.
Melamine, a chemical used to make plastics and fertilizers, can cause kidney stones as the body tries to eliminate it and, in extreme cases, can lead to life-threatening kidney failure. Infants are particularly susceptible.
In an effort to restore public trust in local milk supplies,
reporters were taken on a tour of dairy facilities in
Mengniu and Yili have seen their shares plummet. The leading business magazine, Caijing, reported that losses at both companies were expected to top $526 million in the next four to five months.
Officials said quality checks have intensified in recent weeks, with Mengniu and Yili deploying 3,000 inspectors throughout the region, and the government more than 4,000.
"Provide 100 percent safety to consumers," read
a slogan on a red banner in the ultra-clean processing and packaging hall at Yili's headquarters in
Yili employees showed reporters
a new station for melamine testing where workers dressed in lab coats and
gloves used new testing equipment they said cost the company $15 million to
import from the
"After this incident, we have increased melamine checks on all raw milk supplies (and) only that which passes the tests goes into the factory," said Yili executive president Zhang Jianqiu, after the tour. "All of Yili's products on the markets for sale ... meet the standards."
Government officials said the blame did not lie with the companies but lower down the chain with the farmers.
a vice governor of
"The most important thing at the next stage is to start from the raw milk and improve the inspection right through the production process," Ren said.
The tainted milk scandal has led to more than 30 countries restricting Chinese dairy products, and in some cases all Chinese food imports.
The products' Vietnamese distributor, Huong
Thuy Company Ltd., said the milk melon, cappuccino
coffee and milk coffee all came from Pokka Corp.'s factory in
Meanwhile, the Malaysian government on Thursday banned the
import of ammonium bicarbonate, a baking agent, from
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