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International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: 9 Jul 2010
Source: The New York Times [edited]
Tainted Dairy Products Seized in Western China
Two years after a national health scare over
melamine-tainted milk products rocked China's
dairy industry and called food safety here into
question, inspectors in western China's Qinghai
Province have seized 76 tons of dairy ingredients
laced with the same industrial chemical, the
state-run Xinhua news agency reported Friday [9
The seizure appeared to involve products that had
escaped a nationwide recall of dairy foods after
the 2008 scandal, which killed at least 6
children and sickened 294 000 others.
Inspectors in Gansu Province 1st discovered
contaminated samples of milk powder brought to
them for testing by a worker at the Dongyuan
Dairy Factory in adjacent Qinghai Province.
Qinghai officials later found 64 tons of raw
dairy products and 12 tons of finished goods were
tainted with melamine, some at up to 559 times
the legal maximum.
Both the factory owner, 54-year-old Liu Zhanfeng,
and the production manager Wang Haifeng, 37, were
taken into police custody, Xinhua said. Officials
said most of the contaminated material was
destined for Zhejiang Province, near Shanghai.
Melamine, which is used in concrete, fertilizer
and plastics, mimics protein in certain
food-quality tests, and Chinese manufacturers had
added the chemical to ingredients used in infant
formula, chocolate, pet and animal feeds and
other products to make them appear more
nutritious. When eaten in sufficient quantity,
however, melamine can cause permanent kidney
damage. [And in pets kidney failure and death. It
is likely the same in all monogastric animals,
which includes humans. - Mod.TG]
A year before the 2008 scandal, pet foods
contaminated with Chinese-supplied melamine
killed dozens of dogs in the United States and
Africa and forced recalls of nearly 90 brands of
In January , inspectors in southern China's
Guizhou Province pulled dairy products out of
local stores after discovering melamine in
products shipped there from Shanghai and 3 other
provinces. Xinhua reported on Friday that
officials in Jilin Province, in northeastern
China, had confiscated more than 1000 packages of
milk powder after finding tainted products in a
market on 22 Jun 2010. Officials have since begun
inspecting dairy plants across the region.
In all the recent cases, the contaminated
products appear to be leftovers from the 2008
recall. Inspections at that time found excessive
melamine in the products of 22 dairy companies,
or 1 in 5 dairy manufacturers.
Government officials here vowed to crack down on
food-safety violations in the wake of the 2007
and 2008 melamine incidents, which damaged the
reputation of Chinese food exports worldwide. The
government ordered sweeping changes in food
inspection last year, writing new rules and
placing the existing patchwork of food regulatory
bodies under a single authority, the National
Ministry of Health.
But food safety procedures still need
improvement, and corrupt manufacturers and
growers still use bribery and corruption to
"The Chinese government has enormously and
effectively responded with new laws and new
regulations, and tries to implement this as soon
as it can," Rio Praaning Prawira Adiningrat,
secretary general of the Public Advice
International Foundation, said in a telephone
interview. "But the sheer size of Chinese economy
and the number of people makes it virtually
impossible to check everything." The foundation
works in China on food safety issues.
Mr. Praaning praised the government's commitment
and willingness to discuss its problems openly,
adding, "I think they are absolutely doing the
best they can."
The melamine scandal erupted in late 2008,
however, only after government officials
suppressed word of widespread poisonings so as to
avoid sullying China's international image during
the Beijing summer Olympics.
On Wednesday [7 Jul 2010], a southern China
newspaper reported that one father who launched
an online crusade for food safety after his child
died from melamine poisoning had been sentenced
to one year in a labor camp for "re-education," a
form of punishment often handed out to dissidents
who incur official disfavor.
The Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis Daily
said that the father, Tang Lin, lost his
one-year-old son in August 2008 after the infant
was poisoned by tainted infant formula made by
the Sanlu Group, then China's biggest dairy. The
company went bankrupt after the poisonings became
After local authorities in Chongqing city, a
central China metropolis, refused to compensate
him, Mr. Tang took his grievances online to a
popular chat service called QQ. He was arrested
on 19 May 2010, his wife told the newspaper, and
apparently was sent to the labor camp shortly
afterward for "posing a threat to public security
by scare-mongering" the newspaper stated.
Police documents made public this week say Mr.
Tang told online forum members that "he would go
to extremes" to publicize his son's death and
that "there will be news reports."
[Byline: Michael Wines]
Date: 9 Jul 2010
Source: Associated Press [edited]
China finds more milk items tainted with melamine
Chinese authorities have found dairy products in
at least 3 provinces tainted with an industrial
chemical that killed 6 babies and sickened
hundreds of thousands more in 2008, state media
said Friday [9 Jul 2010].
The discovery suggests toxic milk [products]
remains a lingering danger in China despite a
crackdown 2 years ago that saw dozens arrested
and 2 people, a dairy farmer and a milk salesmen,
Some of the recently found milk was
melamine-tainted powder that state media said was
likely stockpiled instead of destroyed 2 years
Melamine is added to watered-down milk to make it
appear rich in protein in quality tests that
measure nitrogen, found in both the melamine and
protein. Health problems from the chemical
include kidney stones and kidney damage. [And
death - Mod.TG]
In June 2010, authorities found 64 tons of raw
materials for making milk powder and 12 tons of
finished powder tainted with melamine at a
factory in the far western province of Qinghai,
the official Xinhua News Agency said. In a
separate case, they said they seized about 1000
packets of tainted milk powder in the
northeastern province of Jilin.
Xinhua said the owner and a production manager
from Dongyuan Dairy Factory in Qinghai have been
detained after tests showed some of their
products had 500 times the legal limit for
melamine. The contamination was initially
discovered because Dongyuan sent samples of the
powder, which they had purchased from Hebei
province, to a lab for testing so they could
figure out how much to dilute it before selling
it, Xinhua said, citing police.
The report said some of the material was believed
to be old powder that should have been destroyed
in 2008 amid a crackdown on tainted milk.
Xinhua said Dongyuan had already sold some of the
tainted goods to businesses in Jiangsu and
Zhejiang provinces -- a supply chain that
suggests melamine-tainted milk products could
still be available in many parts of the country.
In Zhejiang, about 3 tons of Dongyuan milk powder
was used to make ice cream and other products,
but most of it was still being processed and had
not entered the market, Xinhua quoted a
provincial food safety official as saying.
The Xinhua report didn't say whether there were
any reports of people getting sick from the
The phone at the Dongyuan factory rang unanswered Friday.
China's Administration of Quality Supervision
Inspection and Quarantine did not immediately
respond to a faxed request for comment.
China ordered tens of thousands of tainted milk
products burned or buried after more than 300 000
children were sickened and at least 6 died from
the contamination. But, crucially, the government
did not carry out the eradication itself.
In January 2010, authorities announced toxic
dairy products had been found in Shanghai and the
provinces of Shaanxi, Shandong, Liaoning and
Hebei, prompting a 10-day emergency crackdown
with inspection teams fanning out to 16 provinces.
Zhang Zhongjun, a representative for the U.N.'s
Food and Agriculture Organization in Beijing,
said the latest discovery highlights China's
ongoing struggle to step up food safety.
"We think the situation is improving but there
are still some problems," Zhang said. He said
many manufacturers are small-scale operations
with little food safety awareness and numerous
agencies handle enforcement, creating confusion
that lets some offenders slip through the cracks.
Associated Press researcher Zhao Liang contributed to this report.
[Byline: Alexa Olesen]
Date: 9 Jul 2010
Source: XinhuaNet [edited]
Melamine tainted milk re-emerges in northwest China plant
Food safety authorities have seized 64 tonnes of
raw dairy materials contaminated with the toxic
chemical, melamine, in a dairy plant in northwest
China's Qinghai Province, the provincial quality
watchdog said. Tests of samples of the milk
powder showed up to 500 times the maximum allowed
level of the chemical, said the quality watchdog
in Gansu Province, where the contaminated milk
powder was 1st discovered.
Police traced the source of the milk powder to
Dongyuan Dairy Factory, in Minhe County in
neighboring Qinghai Province. Another 12 tonnes
of processed milk powder products, also tainted,
were also seized.
About 38 tonnes of the raw materials were
purchased from north China's Hebei Province, the
source of the toxic baby formula scandal that
brought down the Sanlu dairy company in 2008,
It is possible that traders had bought tainted
milk that was supposed to be destroyed after the
2008 scandal, planning to process and resell it,
said Wang Zhongxi, deputy chief of the quality
control bureau in Gansu.
An employee of the Dongyuan Dairy Factory, Liu
Xiping, sent 3 samples of milk powder for testing
by Gansu's quality control bureau for melamine
content test on 25 Jun 2010. The bureau called
the police after test results showed the samples
had excessive levels of melamine.
A police investigation found the plant wanted to
know the melamine content of the raw dairy
materials they bought so as to dilute the
melamine level in the milk powder before sale.
Police have detained the owner and production
director of the factory.
Milk powder produced in the plant was mainly sold
in east China's Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces.
Only a small amount was sold in Qinghai.
Zhejiang's food safety commission said Friday
they had seized 3 tonnes of Dongyuan milk powder
in food processing factories in the province.
The tainted milk powder, in 25-kg packages, was
mainly used to produce dairy products like
ice-cream, said the commission. Most of the
contaminated milk powder was still being
processed and had not entered the market, it said.
Meanwhile, in Jilin City of northeast China's
Jilin Province, authorities were testing samples
of milk powder suspected of having excessive
levels of melamine, the city's industry and
commerce bureau said Thursday [8 Jul 2010]. The
bureau has seized more than 1000 packages of milk
powder, produced in the neighboring Heilongjiang
Province, from a store after a random test found
one of them had a high melamine content on 22 Jun
2010. However, it did not say when the test
results would come out.
Jilin's provincial quality control bureau said
Thursday it would start a general check on dairy
products in the province on Friday.
Some milk producers have added the industrial
chemical to products to fool protein content
tests. The practice caused the deaths of at least
6 Chinese babies in 2008 and left another 300 000
A dairy farmer and a milk salesman were executed
November last year  for their roles in the
scandal which also resulted in the bankruptcy of
state-owned dairy producer Sanlu.
Sanlu's general manager, Tian Wenhua, was given a
life sentence in January 2009 on charges of
producing and selling fake or substandard
products. Altogether 21 people were convicted in
connection with the scandal.
[Byline: Pliny, editor]
[Melamine is an organic base chemical most
commonly found in the form of white crystals rich
in nitrogen. It is widely used in plastics,
adhesives, countertops, dishware, and
whiteboards. Symptoms and signs of melamine
poisoning are irritability, blood in urine,
little or no urine, signs of kidney infection,
and high blood pressure. Melamine causes kidney
stones and other urinary tract problems in lab
animals. It also causes kidney failure and death
In 2007, melamine was found in wheat gluten and
rice protein concentrate imported from China and
used in the manufacture of pet food in the United
States. This caused the death of a large number
of dogs and cats due to kidney failure (see prior
ProMED-mail post Pet food fatalities, pets - USA,
Canada, Mexico (03): melamine 20070330.1099).
According to the United States Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) regulations the presence of
melamine is considered adulteration. Adulterated
foods are not acceptable for marketing or
consumption. In China, where adulteration has
occurred, melamine has also been added to
increase the nitrogen content of the milk (its
apparent protein content) after water was added
to raw milk to increase its volume.
According to the report from the Ministry of
Health of China dated 22 Sep 2008, there had been
more than 53 000 cases identified, of which 13
000 were hospitalized, and 104 infants were in
In January 2009, a court in China sentenced 2 men
to death for their role in making and selling
milk tainted with melamine. At least 6 children
died and nearly 300 000 fell ill after drinking
the toxic dairy products in 2008 (see prior
PRO/MBDS post Infant kidney stones - China (06):
WHO, timeline 20080922.2990).
In general the melamine has been added to
powdered milk products, including such things as
powdered infant formula to be mixed at the home.
The solubility of melamine in water is 3.1 grams
of melamine per liter of water at 20 deg C [68
deg F], so it is possible to add it to liquid
While melamine can be added to liquid milk
products, melamine is not naturally found in milk
and does not pass through a cow/sheep/goat/horse
into the liquid milk. However, ruminant animals,
such as cattle, are better at utilizing non
protein nitrogen as a nutrient in their feed. -
Melamine, milk products - China (02) 20100202.0352
Melamine, milk products - China 20100105.0048
Melamine contaminated food products (09): worldwide ex China 20081130.3770
Melamine - USA (02): traces in infant formula 20081127.3738
Melamine contaminated food products (08): worldwide ex China 20081120.3658
Melamine - USA: alert 20081116.3619
Melamine contamination, animal feed (04): China 20081114.3598
Melamine contaminated food products (07): worldwide ex China 20081114.3587
Melamine contaminated food products (06): worldwide ex China 20081105.3480
Melamine contamination, animal feed (03): China 20081031.3433
Melamine contaminated food products (05): worldwide ex China 20081030.3425
Melamine contaminated food products (04): Worldwide ex China 20081027.3391
Melamine contamination, animal feed (02): China 20081020.3326
Melamine contaminated food products (03): Worldwide ex China 20081020.3324
Melamine contaminated food products (02): Worldwide ex China 20081004.3129
Melamine contaminated food products - Worldwide ex China 20081002.3107
Melamine contamination, animal feed: RFI 20081001.3097
Infant kidney stones - China (03): melamine 20080917.29151
Infant kidney stones - China (02): Gansu, milk, melamine 20080912.2856
Fish mortality - South Africa: melamine?, RFI 20070612.1919
Contaminated pet food - China: melamine 20070430.1403
Pet food fatalities, pets - USA, Canada, Mexico (03): melamine 20070330.1099]
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