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Parents worry, dairies finally come clean

MARCH-JUNE 2008: Major dairy maker Sanlu Group received complaints from parents claiming their babies developed kidney stones after drinking the company's milk formula.

July: The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine urged parents to report details about their infants' kidney and urinary tract problems.

September 11: The Shanghai-based Oriental Morning Post reported that 14 infants in Gansu Province developed kidney stones and Sanlu milk power was suspected to be the cause. The same day, the Gansu Health Department revealed that one baby among 59 infants who were reported to be suffering from kidney problems died. And the Ministry of Health issued a warning that people should stop using baby formula made by Sanlu, while the company said it would recall its problem formula.

September 12: The government of Shijiazhuang City in Hebei Province said the industrial chemical melamine had been added to Sanlu baby milk formula. Sanlu, which is headquartered in that city, admitted its baby formula contained melamine. Later, another 21 domestic milk powder producers were also found to be adding the chemical to their products. Since the scandal began, at least six infants died and almost 300,000 others developed kidney or urinary problems.

December 24: Sanlu applied for bankruptcy to the Shijiazhuang Intermediate People's Court.

December 28: The 22 Chinese dairy companies caught up in the milk scandal agreed to contribute to a 1.1-billion-yuan (US$161 million) compensation fund. The fund will pay medical costs incurred by victims of the tainted milk until they turn 18.

January 21, 2009: The Shijiazhuang court sentenced former Sanlu chief Tian Wenhua to life imprisonment and fined her 24.69 million yuan. Two men who produced or added melamine-laced protein powder to milk were sentenced to death. So far, 17 people have been put on trial in Hebei, including those accused of producing melamine and marketing it to milk producers, as well as milk collectors who mixed the chemical into raw milk sold to major dairies.

February 12: The Shijiazhuang court declared Sanlu Group bankrupt.


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