Archive for the ‘infants’ Category

China: Death, Sickness from Poisoned Milk Double What First Reported

December 2, 2008

China’s Health Ministry said six babies may have died after consuming tainted milk powder, up from a previous official toll of three, and announced a six-fold increase in its tally of infants sickened in the scandal to nearly 300,000.

It was the first time since Sept. 21 that health authorities have revised the total number of babies sickened by milk powder adulterated with the industrial chemical melamine. The previous total was about 50,000.

The crisis has been met with public dismay and anger, particularly among parents who feel the government breached their trust after their children were sickened or died from drinking infant formula authorities had certified as safe.

The latest statistics show that China’s communist leaders are slowly acknowledging the breadth of China’s worst food safety scare in years. During such crises, the government often deliberately releases information piecemeal in part to keep from feeding public anger.

The ministry said in a statement late Monday that 294,000 babies across the country had suffered from urinary problems after consuming milk powder laced with melamine.

“Most of the sickened children received outpatient treatment only for small amounts of sand-like kidney stones found in their urinary systems, while some patients had to be hospitalized for the illness,” the statement said.

Thousands of parents have been clamoring for compensation for their sickened and dead children. The release of the figures raises the question of whether the Health Ministry is getting closer to finalizing a compensation scheme.

In this Oct. 19, 2008 file photo, Li Xiaoquan, right, holds ...
In this Oct. 19, 2008 file photo, Li Xiaoquan, right, holds up a photo of his twin daughters Li Xiaokai and Li Xiaoyan near his wife Li Aiqing and Li Xiaoyan at their home in Liti village, near Runan, central China’s Henan province. Nine month old Li Xiaokai who has been drinking a brand of milk formula linked to the melamine scandal died from kidney failure. China’s Health Ministry said six babies may have died after consuming tainted milk powder, up from a previous official toll of three, and announced a six-fold increase in its tally of infants sickened in the scandal to nearly 300,000.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

Read the rest from the Associated Press:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081202/ap_on_bi_ge/
as_china_tainted_milk_4

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China Announces Food Safety Rules

November 20, 2008

The Chinese government, struggling to contain the fallout from a scandal over contaminated milk and eggs, announced a wide range of food safety measures on Thursday aimed at reining in abuses in the dairy industry.

The State Council, China’s cabinet, issued several new rules it says will govern all aspects of the industry, from cow breeding and animal feed to the packaging and sales of milk.

By Andrew Jacobs
The New York Times

 
An official prepared to destroy confiscated milk powder in Shanghai last week. Photo: Reuters

Since September, when Chinese-made milk powder was found to be adulterated with the industrial chemical melamine, at least four infants who drank the formula have died and more than 50,000 children have fallen ill. On Thursday, China’s Health Ministry said that more than 1,000 infants were still hospitalized with kidney damage, Reuters reported. The scandal has led to recalls of milk products across the world, embarrassed the Chinese government and devastated domestic dairy farmers and milk producers.

“The crisis has put China’s diary industry in peril and exposed major problems existing in the quality control and supervision of the industry,” said an official with China’s National Development and Reform Commission, according to a posting on the agency’s Web site.

In announcing the new measures, the government said it would issue new laws and standards by next October, and that by 2011, “the goal is to have well-bred cows and a mass-producing dairy industry,” according to Xinhua, the official news agency. The government said it would also provide loans and grants to dairy farmers and milk producers struggling to survive the crisis.

This is not the first time regulators have pledged to clean up the nation’s fast-growing agriculture industry. A similar cry erupted early last year when it was discovered that melamine-tainted pet food ingredients from China had sickened thousands of cats and dogs in the United States. At that time, the government promptly banned melamine as an animal feed additive and declared the problem under control.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/21/world/
asia/21milk.html?_r=1&hp

China to overhaul battered dairy industry

November 20, 2008

China announced a complete overhaul of its dairy industry Thursday to improve safety at every step — from cow breeding to milk sales — saying its worst food quality scandal in years had revealed “major problems” in quality control.

Changes will be made within the next year in production, purchasing, processing and sales, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

By TINI TRAN, Associated Press Writer

Li Xiaoyan near her mother Li Aiqing at their home in Liti village, ... 
Li Xiaoyan near her mother Li Aiqing at their home in Liti village, near Runan, central China’s Henan province, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2008. Li Xiaoyan’s nine month old twin sister, Li Xiaokai who has been drinking a brand of milk formula linked to the melamine scandal died from kidney failure.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

“The crisis has put China’s dairy industry in peril and exposed major problems existing in the quality control and supervision of the industry,” it quoted an official at China’s top economic planning body, the National Development and Reform Commission, as saying.

Milk and milk products tainted with melamine, an industrial chemical, have been blamed in the deaths of at least three infants and have sickened more than 50,000 others. The government has detained dozens of people in the scandal, but there have been no court cases so far.

The State Council, China’s Cabinet, said the Health Ministry will issue new quality and safety standards for dairy products, while the Agriculture Ministry will draft inspection standards for melamine and other toxins in animal feed. The flow and delivery of dairy products will also be tracked, it said in a statement.

The breadth and speed of the proposed changes echo actions taken last year, when a slew of Chinese exports — from toothpaste to toys — were found to contain high levels of potentially deadly chemicals.

After an initial unwillingness to acknowledge problems, authorities threw themselves into a campaign to protect export industries and bolster the country’s reputation as the world’s manufacturing base.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081120/ap_on_re_as/as_china_tainted_
milk;_ylt=AhZrN5Td5pCQTHOhcIrKoRWs0NUE

U.S. says food, drug inspection access in China improving

November 19, 2008

U.S. officials opened the first overseas Food and Drug Administration office in Beijing on Wednesday as they gear up for a long battle to ensure the quality of food, drug and feed imports from China.

The eight FDA workers in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou will set up a process for pre-certifying and inspecting imports from China, which has hundreds of thousands of food processors and drug manufacturers.

A series of food safety scandals in China, where thousands of babies fell ill after melamine was introduced into milk formula to cheat protein tests, has triggered alarm in the United States, which imports about 15 percent of the food it consumes.

By Lucy Hornby, Reuters

A laboratory researcher works at the food safety inspection ...
A laboratory researcher works at the food safety inspection center in Beijing July 18, 2007.(China Daily/Reuters)

Problems with melamine-tainted dairy products from China were so pervasive that the United States issued an import alert, which force importers to certify that the food was problem-free before entering U.S. markets. A similar alert has been in effect on Chinese seafood since last year.

U.S. inspectors have complained in the past of limited access and information when investigating safety disputes with Chinese suppliers and manufacturers, but U.S. Secretary of Health Mike Leavitt said cooperation was improving.

Access was “clearly spelled out” in agreements between U.S. and Chinese authorities, Leavitt told reporters.

“Heparin, for example, was not one of the drugs under the agreement but those protocols were used and there were U.S. inspectors and Chinese inspectors together visiting the points of production,” he said. “Progress is being made.”

Chinese-made heparin, a blood thinner, was blamed for fatalities and adverse reactions in U.S. and German patients, prompting a recall by Baxter International Inc. early this year.

The FDA offices would try to identify and train laboratories that can certify shipments for faster clearance into the United States, with the goal of ultimately accepting inspections by Chinese quarantine and inspection agency AQSIQ.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081119/us_n
m/us_china_usa_food_2

China’s Poisoned Milk Scandal: Deaths Went Uncounted, Unreported

November 15, 2008

Li Xiaokai died of kidney failure on the old wooden bed in the family farmhouse, just before dawn on a drizzly Sept. 10.

Her grandmother wrapped the 9-month-old in a wool blanket. Her father handed the body to village men for burial by a muddy creek. The doctors and family never knew why she got sick. A day later, state media reported that the type of infant formula she drank had been adulterated with an industrial chemical.

By CHARLES HUTZLER, Associated Press Writer

Li Xiaoyan sits on the lap of her mother Li Aiqing at their ...
Li Xiaoyan sits on the lap of her mother Li Aiqing at their home in Liti village, near Runan, in China’s Henan province, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2008. Li Xiaoyan’s nine-month-old twin sister, Li Xiaokai who had been drinking a brand of milk formula linked to the melamine scandal died from kidney failure.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Yet the deaths of Xiaokai and at least four other babies are not included in China‘s official death toll from its worst food safety scare in years. The Health Ministry’s count stands at only three deaths.

The stories of these uncounted babies suggest that China’s tainted milk scandal has exacted a higher human toll than the government has so far acknowledged. Without an official verdict on the deaths, families worry they will be unable to bring lawsuits and refused compensation.

So far, nobody is suggesting large numbers of deaths are being concealed. But so many months passed before the scandal was exposed that it’s likely more babies fell sick or died than official figures reflect.

Beijing‘s apparent reluctance to admit a higher toll is reinforcing perceptions that the authoritarian government cares more about tamping down criticism than helping families. Lawyers, doctors and reporters have said privately that authorities pressured them to not play up the human cost or efforts to get compensation from the government or Sanlu, the formula maker.

“It’s hard to say how the government will handle this matter,” said Zhang Xinkui, a Beijing-based lawyer amassing evidence of the contamination for a possible lawsuit. “There may be many children who perhaps died from drinking Sanlu powdered milk or perhaps from a different cause. But there’s no system in place to find out.”

In the weeks since Xiaokai’s death, her father and his older brother have talked to lawyers and beseeched health officials, with no result.

“My heart is in pain,” said her father, Li Xiaoquan, a short, taciturn farmer with hooded eyes. From a corner of his farmhouse courtyard in central China’s wheat and corn flatlands, he pulls a worn green box that once held apples and is now stuffed with empty pink wrappers of the Sanlu Infant Formula Milk Powder that Xiaokai nursed on. “We think someone, the company, should compensate us.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081115/ap_on_re_as/as_
china_tainted_milk_toll;_ylt=AhcKMuAvsxWggSPLvIOf.cqs0NUE

Retracing the Path Toxic Powder Took To Food in China

November 8, 2008

Xue Jianzhong never posted a sign on his ground-floor shop, but somehow everyone knew what he was selling. Customers from all over this dairy farming region in the northeastern province of Hebei flocked to Xue’s dusty street to buy special concoctions that he said would make milk more nutritious — and more marketable.

Advertised as a “protein powder,” the substance was sold in 44-pound bags and was tasteless, odorless and white, like talc. It wasn’t cheap, about $1 a pound, but it could be mixed into inferior milk or even with specially treated water and the result would be a milklike liquid that would pass government quality tests.

It wasn’t until September, when Xue was arrested in connection with the investigation into the poisoning of tens of thousands of babies across China, that it became clear his secret ingredient was a toxic industrial chemical called melamine. 

By Maureen Fan and Ariana Eunjung Cha
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, November 8, 2008; Page A01

Melamine can mimic protein in nutrition tests for milk and in products such as wheat gluten and chicken feed. But when ingested in large amounts, it can cause kidney stones or death in children and animals.

A child suffering from kidney stones receives medical treatment ... 
A child suffering from kidney stones receives medical treatment at a hospital in Hefei, Anhui province in this September 19, 2008 file photo. The discovery of melamine in eggs as well as in baby formula, milk products, biscuits, chocolates and other foodstuffs containing milk derivatives confirms what experts have long suspected; that the chemical is deeply embedded in the human food chain. China is a major transgressor as carcinogenic chemicals are regularly used as food colouring agents or as preservatives, experts say.  Reuters

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/07/AR2008110703562.html

China Widens Food Tests on Signs of New Contamination, Poison

October 31, 2008

Chinese regulators said Friday that they were widening their investigation into contaminated food amid growing signs that an industrial chemical called melamine had leached into the nation’s animal feed supplies, posing even deeper health risks to consumers after the recent tainted milk scandal.

By David Barboza
The New York Times
.
The announcement came after food safety tests earlier this week found that eggs produced in three different provinces in China were contaminated with melamine, a chemical that is blamed for causing kidney stones and renal failure in infants. The tests have led to recalls of eggs and consumer warnings.

The reports are another serious blow to China’s agriculture industry, which is already struggling to cope with its worst food safety scandal in decades after melamine tainted milk supplies sickened over 50,000 children, caused at least four deaths and led to global recalls of goods produced with Chinese dairy products earlier this fall.

 
Above: A worker placed a notice that read “No melamine contained” on egg crates at a major eggs production factory in suburban Beijing on Friday. Photo by Andy Wong, Associated Press.

The cases are fueling global concerns about contaminated Chinese food. In Hong Kong, food safety officials announced this week that they would be testing a wider variety of foods for melamine, including vegetables, flour and meat products.

But food safety experts have also asked consumers to remain calm because while melamine-tainted milk has hospitalized thousands in China, there are no known cases thus far of consumers becoming seriously ill from eating melamine-tainted eggs.

Hong Kong officials said melamine was found in higher than permissible levels in eggs imported from China, but that a child would have to eat about two dozen eggs in a single day to become ill.

Still, if eggs, milk and animal feed supplies are tainted, there is the specter of an even wider array of foods that could come under scrutiny for contamination, everything from pork and chicken supplies to bread, biscuits, eggs, cakes and seafood.

While China is not a major exporter of dairy products, it has one of the world’s fastest-growing dairy industries and it is also one of the world’s largest exporters of food and food ingredients, including meats, seafood, beverages and vitamins.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/01/world/asia/
01china.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

China’s Poisoned Milk Hits Vietnam Especially Hard

October 17, 2008

After China itself, perhaps Vietnam suffered most from the melamine tainted milk, formula and other dairy products from China.  That’s because Vietnam produces only about 20% of its own milk and the price of dairy products in Vietnam is the highest in nthe world…..

Below from Vietnam NetBridge
.
Associate Professor Dr Nguyen Dang Vang, Deputy Chairman of the National Assembly’s Science and Technology  in Vietnam had this to say: 

Every nation in the world has a demand for dairy products, including sterilised fresh milk. The quality of dairy products has to be high, but the prices of products have to be low enough to ensure that people, including children and poor students, can have milk.

In many countries in the world, like Japan and countries in Europe, children always drink sterilised fresh milk, as the countries apply a policy on developing herds of milk cows, which allows them to satisfy domestic demand with 100% of domestic sourced milk.

Cows wait to be milked at a dairy farm near Hohhot, northwestern ... 
Cows wait to be milked at a dairy farm near Hohhot, northwestern China’s Inner Mongolia province, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2008. Alarmed by the growing public dismay and international recalls over its tainted dairy products, China’s government pledged this week to overhaul the troubled industry by monitoring every link in the process that brings raw milk from the farm to the family kitchen.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

In the region, Taiwan only has a population of 23mil, but its fresh milk output is 885,000 tonnes a year, which means that every person has over 38kg of milk every year.

What about Vietnam? With 120,000 cows and 250,000 tonnes of fresh milk a year, Vietnamese people only have 2.9kg of fresh milk a year.

It is clear that the fresh milk output is too low. Vietnam now has to import milk powder to make liquid milk. 1kg of milk powder can make 8.3 litres of liquid milk. The 250,000 tonnes of material milk can meet only 21.5% of the demand for materials for production, while the other 80% needs to be fed by imports.

 
Read the rest:
http://english.vietnamnet.vn/biz/2008/10/808977/

China’s Govt Summons People Responsible for Poisoned Milk

October 17, 2008

BEIJING – China summoned five of its major dairy companies to a meeting Friday over the fate of Sanlu Group Co., 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, ... 
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 Yili Industrial Group Co., 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….

Read the Rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081017/ap_
on_re_as/as_asia_tainted_milk