BEIJING – China summoned five of its major dairy companies to a meeting Friday over the fate of., the company at the center of a tainted milk scandal that has sickened thousands and led to the deaths of four children, state media reported.
The five companies were brought to Beijing to discuss the purchase of the company, the 21st Century Business Herald, a major business daily, reported Friday.
By HENRY SANDERSON, Associated Press Writer
The government is trying to revive its dairy industry and contain the fallout after baby formula contaminated with melamine was blamed for the deaths of four infants and the sickening of about 54,000 other children in China.
The Health Ministry said Wednesday that 5,800 children were still hospitalized — six of them in serious condition. In Hong Kong, the Department of Health said Friday two more children have developed kidney stones after drinking melamine-laced milk, bringing to 10 the total number of children with milk-related kidney stones.
A woman carries a child along a Beijing street on October 7, 2008. China Thursday announced that 5,824 children are still receiving hospital treatment for kidney diseases caused by a contaminated milk scandal, state news agency Xinhua said.(AFP/File/Frederic J. Brown)
Sanlu, a majority state-owned company whose products were the most heavily tainted, is now largely defunct, with companies looking to scoop up its assets. It is 43 percent-owned by New Zealand’s Fonterra Group dairy.
The companies invited to the meeting were Chinese beverage-maker Wahaha Group, Wondersun, Inner Mongolia ., Sanyuan Foods Ltd. and Heilongjiang-based Feihe Dairy, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of New York-listed American Dairy Inc.
Both Sanyuan and Wahaha have been discussed in state media as likely buyers of Sanlu’s assets, but the paper also quoted Wondersun’s board chairman as saying they were considering it. But any buyer would have to take on Sanlu’s debt and the possibility of compensation to consumers….