Contaminated baby's milk induces wave of child illness in China

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Almost 13,000 children in China have fallen sick in a wave of sickness caused by baby's milk contaminated with melamine, a banned chemical which can cause kidney stones, irritation, and ulcers. Most of the sickened children are infants two years or younger, and four children have died from the chemical so far.

The Chinese Health Ministry has stated that most of the tainted milk was produced by Shijiazhuang Sanlu Group Co.'s infant milk powder and have pulled several dairy products off the shelves of Chinese stores. Sanlu, Mengniu and Yili were among the largest brands recalled, and have been attempting to repair their damaged public image. Yili announced that it would be reviewing its manufacturing process and making necessary safety changes. Yang Wenjun, president of Mengniu, apologized for the contamination and promised to make changes as well. Sanlu, meanwhile, has stopped production and is checking all products.

The Ministry is conducting an investigation into why the number of illnesses doubled Saturday. Ten percent of yogurt, milk and ice cream is also contaminated, however adults will not be affected if they drink less than two litres a day of the contaminated products.

Melamine is an industrial byproduct, infamous for poisoning thousands of pets in the United States in 2007. Investigators believe it was used by desperate dairy companies to disguise diluted milk in dairy products in order to pass quality tests and make higher profits.

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