Friday, September 19, 2008

TAINTED BABY FORMULA

China's toxic milk scare widens

1,250 infants stricken with kidney stones; New Zealand says it warned Beijing
Sep 16, 2008 04:30 AM

BEIJING–China was bracing for more bad news today amid mounting fears that the death toll from the country's contaminated baby formula scandal is about to climb.

China's deputy health minister said yesterday a second death had been confirmed and more than 1,250 babies now suffer from kidney stones after drinking the formula laced with melamine sold by Chinese dairy company Sanlu.

Melamine is a chemical used in making plastics. It is banned in food production.

Deputy minister Ma Xiaowei told reporters that of the 1,250 babies affected, more than 350 are hospitalized – and 53 of them are in "serious" condition.

"Emergency medical care for the affected infants must become our top priority," Ma said. "We must do everything in our power to protect their health and safety ... and prevent further deaths."

But as he spoke the scandal appeared to broaden and deepen.

Police have questioned nearly 80 people, detained 19, and charged two men – brothers who ran a milk collection business – with "producing and selling toxic and hazardous food."

State news agency Xinhua said it is believed the pair added melamine to the milk to boost nitrogen levels, which would falsely increase protein readings to pass tests.

The agency also reported there is now evidence that the melamine might have been present in Sanlu's formula since late 2007.

And in New Zealand, Prime Minister Helen Clark embarrassingly revealed that it was her government – not China's – that "blew the whistle" on the deadly scandal, alerting Beijing.

Clark learned of the contamination from New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra, a minority shareholder in Sanlu.

Fonterra had been trying since early August, when the presence of melamine was confirmed, to persuade Sanlu to halt production of the formula in China and announce an immediate recall. But the provincial government in Hebei, south of Beijing, where Sanlu is headquartered was dragging is feet.

Clark convened her senior ministers within 72 hours, then ordered them to leapfrog the Chinese provincial authorities – and deal directly with the more powerful central government in Beijing.

A recall was announced in China the next day, Sept. 11.

"We were the whistle-blowers and they leapt in and ensured that there was action on the ground," Clark told TV New Zealand. "At a (Chinese) local level ... I think the first inclination was to try to put a towel over it and deal with it without an official recall."

She commended China's central government for moving swiftly.

But troubling – and potentially explosive – is the timing of Fonterra's blocked efforts.

Fonterra said it had learned of the contamination problem in early August – less than one week before Beijing's prestigious Olympic Games – and immediately pushed Sanlu to announce a recall.

"We as a minority shareholder had to continue to push Sanlu," Fonterra chief Andrew Ferrier explained to reporters in New Zealand on a video-conference call from Singapore. "Sanlu had to work with its own government to follow the procedures that they were given.

"We, together with Sanlu, have done everything that we possibly could to get the product off the shelf," Ferrier said.

But they were blocked.

Whether provincial regulators feared the central government would not brook a high-profile food scare on the brink of the Olympic Games is a legitimate question.

Last year China was rocked by successive health scares involving toothpaste, tires, toys – even medicines – and the Chinese government took extraordinary steps to improve oversight and inspection to assure the world's athletes that coming to Beijing would not involve a food-safety hazard.

But a health scare involving infant formula just days before the Aug. 8 opening ceremonies would have had a chilling effect on spectators and athletes – and would not have been welcomed by China's central government.

A news report in Hong Kong's South China Morning Post during the Games said senior editors at mainland Chinese news media had been handed "a 21-point directive" on how to report the Olympics from the central government's Propaganda Department – to which all Chinese media are accountable. On that list, the report said, No. 8 cautioned against reporting "all food safety issues."

Beijing Olympic Committee officials denied the existence of such a document.

Last night – a week after it publicly denied any wrongdoing – Sanlu apologized to the Chinese public.

At the company's headquarters, Sanlu vice-president Zhang Zhenling said: "The serious accident of the Sanlu formula milk powder for infants has caused severe harm to many sickened babies and their families. We feel really sad about this.

"Sanlu Group expresses its most sincere apology to you."

State media said the two confirmed dead were from Lanzhou in Gansu province.

Another news from CNN. September 18, 2008 -- Updated 1010 GMT (1810 HKT China: Fourth baby dies from tainted formula

BEIJING, China (CNN) -- Chinese officials in the northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region reported the death of a fourth baby Thursday in the country's expanding contaminated infant formula case. The tainted milk powder has already sickened more than 6,200 babies.

Earlier in the day, authorities announced the arrest of 12 more suspects in the investigation, provincial police said.

The arrests bring to 18 the number of people detained, according to the Hebei Public Security Bureau.

Twelve of those arrested are involved in the collection of milk and the production of milk products, authorities said. Authorities accuse the other six of illegally selling the chemical added to the milk.

More than 1,300 infants are hospitalized, said Li Changjiang, China's director of quarantine and inspection, on Wednesday. Their conditions include malnutrition, kidney stones and acute renal failure.

Read here for full article.

These are just 2 from many articles you can find in internet, I just can't believe that there are people who actually willing to harm innocent baby for the sake or profit and money.

And Sanlu Group think they will get away with this just with sincere apology!! How about you think again before you decide to do such thing people!!!

I feel sorry for those babies :(

1 comment:

accordingtod said...

it's horrible...