China Recalls Tainted Milk and Baby Formula

Sept. 19, 2008
Four dead and 6,000 have fallen ill from tainted Chinese dairy products.

Chinese supermarkets and shops are pulling milk and a wide range of other dairy products off their shelves as a sweeping recall of goods tainted with a dangerous chemical has hit full gear.

Yili, Mengniu and Guangming -- big brands consumed and trusted by hundreds of millions of Chinese -- were affected by the recall after authorities checked their products and found traces of melamine, a chemical used in plastics.

"All problem products have been banned from our stores," said an executive at Jian-Mart, a popular supermarket chain. "Products from Yilin, Mengniu and Guangming have been pulled off the shelves, including milk, milk powder and yoghurt," she said, giving only her surname, Zhao.

The government agency in charge of product quality supervision on Friday issued detailed findings from a comprehensive national check, showing 24 of the 295 batches it tested from the three dairy companies were contaminated.

"The manufacturers should of their own accord recall all products where melamine has been detected," the agency said on its website.

Melamine can make products look like they are bursting with protein, but consumed in large amounts it can be lethal. Four babies have died so far from kidney failure in China's most recent product safety scandal, and more than 6,000 have fallen ill.

The scare escalated on September 18 when the government announced that a number of milk products, and not only baby formula, are tainted with the chemical.

The three companies hit by the latest recall could not be reached for comment Friday. But retailers complained that the scandal was costing them dearly.

"Normally we can sell 53,000 yuan (7,700 dollars) of dairy products per day, but at present we sell less than 10,000 yuan," said Wang Feiqi, a manager at a branch of supermarket chain Wu-Mart. "I think this will last at least one or two months. Customers won't come to buy these products unless they reach the national standard."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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