The Sanlu brand’s contaminated milk formula has caused four infants’ deaths in China and the number of infants diagnosed with kidney stones or other problems after consuming the Sanlu milk has hit 6200 mark, with 158 of them suffering acute kidney failure. (Last updated September 19, 2008)
Chinese authorities have arrested 19 people since the scandal was exposed last week. Two brothers who run a milk collection centre in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, have admitted that they added melamine into the milk they supplied to Sanlu.
The brothers began mixing their milk with melamine in late 2007 to pass Sanlu’s quality test after their supplies were rejected a few times by the company and resulted in huge losses. Melamine is a chemical which is often used in plastic industry; reports suggested that it could make the milk appeared rich in protein.
Sanlu might escaped the blame for causing the contamination, but the public is questioning their slow response. New Zealand’s Fonterra Co-operative Group, which owns 43% of Sanlu Group, stated on Sunday that it has urged the Chinese company to recall since early August 2008.
Chinese news also reported that the first Sanlu related kidney stone case was discovered in early March 2008; while some reports quoted from a high rank government officer in Hebei province said that Sanlu knew about the use of melamine in its milk as early as 2005.
The scandal has rocked Chinese food safety concern yet again. In 2004, at least 13 babies died in Anhui province after drinking fake milk powder.
Update (Sept 17) – melamine found in more milk… 22 products from various dairy food firms are found contaminated by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ).