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December 11, 2009

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3 arrested over melamine-laced milk products

THREE dairy company employees in northwest China's Shaanxi Province have been arrested over suspected tainted milk powder sales.

Xinhua news agency said last night that Shaanxi quality inspectors also seized five tons of products contaminated with toxic additive melamine before they reached retail stores.

Prosecutors on Tuesday approved the arrests of Liu Ping, general manager of the Shaanxi Jinqiao Dairy Co, and two of its employees, Miao Wenjun and Lu Xiaoqiang.

They were detained on December 2 on suspicion of producing and selling toxic food, the provincial public security department said yesterday.

The three sold 5.25 tons of melamine-laced milk powder to the Nanning Yueqian Food Additive Co in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in September, said the department.

Melamine is banned internationally as a food additive as it can cause kidney stones and renal failure.

Shaanxi police are still investigating the source of the melamine and how it was added to the batch of products, according to Xinhua.

The 5.25 tons of suspect milk powder was sealed in October last year during a nationwide inspection in the wake of the melamine scandal after an initial focus on the now-defunct Sanlu Group.

According to Xinhua, Liu demanded to reexamine the batch a month after and changed samples so tests would meet national standards.

Local quality inspectors freed the batch after they were told by Liu of the new test results.

Police said Liu stored them in a warehouse until an order came from the Nanning firm in September.

Liu, Miao and Lu repackaged the products on the nights of September 4 and 5 when other workers were off.

They sold them as well as another five tons of untested products to the Nanning firm on September 6.

The Nanning company soon discovered melamine in the products.

The Shaanxi Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine tested them again and found melamine.

All of the tainted powder was confiscated on November 18.

At least six infants died and more than 300,000 became ill during the 2008 melamine scandal.


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