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January 26, 2010

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Melamine milk found in stores

DAIRY products tainted with melamine have been pulled from convenience store shelves in southwest China's Guizhou Province more than a year after hundreds of thousands of children had been sickened in a massive milk safety scandal, a government spokeswoman said yesterday.

Frozen milk products and cartons of milk dating from early 2009 were taken off the shelves after health inspectors tested them and found melamine, said Ling Hu, a Guizhou provincial government spokeswoman.

She said the provincial health bureau was checking to see why the products were not removed from shelves earlier.

Tainted products from three companies - Shandong Zibo Lusaier Dairy, Liaoning Tieling Wuzhou Food, and Laoting Kaida Refrigeration - were discovered in more than a dozen convenience stores around the province, Ling said.

Laoting Kaida Refrigeration was among the companies named in the original melamine scandal in 2008, when at least six children died and 300,000 were sickened after drinking baby formula containing melamine.

Melamine, which can cause kidney stones and kidney failure, was added to watered-down milk to fool inspectors testing for protein and to increase profits. Both melamine and protein are high in nitrogen.

Dozens of officials, dairy executives and farmers were punished.

Since the scandal broke, China vowed to implement stricter safety measures and step up inspections on the dairy industry. Ling said health officials have continued to target distributors who sell melamine-tainted milk to stores, but some distributors, wrongly assuming the government had scaled back its crackdown, continue to sell it.

Ling said distributors arrested for selling tainted milk led authorities to the convenience stores where the contaminated product was found. She had no other details and said the investigation was still under way.


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