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January 1, 2010

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City dairy firm shut over melamine, 3 arrested

CITY quality and industrial authorities yesterday closed the Shanghai Panda Dairy Co Ltd for producing milk powder and condensed milk containing unacceptably high levels of the potentially dangerous chemical additive melamine.

Three company executives have been arrested.

The Shanghai Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision found in a regular inspection that a batch of high-calcium milk powder targeted at middle-aged and elderly people exceeded the melamine-level standard for non-baby-formula powder, which is no more than 2.5 milligrams per kilogram.

Bureau officials did not reveal the specific amount of melamine contained in the Panda products.

The bureau started an immediate investigation after the discovery, together with public security, industrial and commercial, and food and drug authorities.

Their joint investigations found that four batches of milk powder and four batches of condensed milk produced by the company had illegally high melamine levels.

Tainted products were taken from the company, removed from public sale and would all be destroyed, officials said.

The company, on the melamine black list in 2008 with the second-highest national levels, was allowed to resume manufacturing after the deadly nationwide dairy scandal abated and it pledged to lift its game.

Yesterday's investigation showed that the company reused melamine-tainted condensed milk that had been recalled from the market.

It also used suspect raw material for milk powder provided by the company's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region branch in northwest China.

The company's business licence, food-hygiene licence and food-production licence have been revoked.

Panda's corporate representative, general manager and deputy general manager have all been placed under arrest.

The Ningxia Panda Dairy Co Ltd was also under investigation.

The now-bankrupt Sanlu Group, based in northern China's Hebei Province, was the biggest offender in the 2008 melamine scandal.

At least six infants died and more than 300,000 others suffered kidney problems and other symptoms after consuming melamine-tainted milk powder on the Chinese mainland.

Panda's products had the second highest-melamine content after the disgraced Sanlu.

More than 20 other dairy producers were implicated in the scandal.


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