U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials said it was possible that some formula from China may have slipped into markets serving Chinese consumers in the United States even though its sales are prohibited.
The agency advised consumers not to purchase or use baby formula from China if they do see it.
[…] Chinese authorities on Thursday said tainted, milk-based formula killed one baby and caused kidney stones in dozens of others who may have drunk the same product.
Contaminants were found in Sanlu-brand milk formula, China’s Ministry of Health said. The Sanlu Group recalled milk formula made before August 6.
The following is from the Question and Answer section of the official website of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of People’s Republic of China, posted in July, and may shed some light on the cause of the problem. Translated by CDT:
Relevant Agency: [Department of Food Production Monitoring] Reply Date [2008-07-16]
Inquiry Number: [20080707-2946-26530]
Question: From Qinghe, Xuzhou city, Jiangsu Province: There is a Sanlu milk purchasing station, the boss’s name is Wei Dehua (魏德华). The milk he buys is from family dairy farms, and already has added vegetable powders 植脂末, protein powder 蛋白粉, artificial sweeteners 糖稀糊精….. and other fake materials. Otherwise they would not meet the quota. Wei then added more fake milk materials to send to Sanlu in Xuzhou, Jiangsu to make a profit.
Sanlu is a nationally famous brand. How can they buy such milk, disregarding the health of consumers? This is the year of the Olympics, if foreign friends drink this kind of milk and if any incidents happen, what kind of negative impact it will have on our country? I hope national agencies can take action on this. Don’t let the fake milk powder incident from several years ago happen again.
How can such a big brand as Sanlu buy such milk? Where are the quality monitoring agencies?
Answer: We have passed your information to the Quality Monitoring Bureau of Jiangsu, and will follow up with the results of the investigation.
Almost two months later, from Xinhua News Agency, via the China Daily: Sanlu Group admits contamination of baby milk powder products.
Sanlu Group, a leading Chinese dairy producer, said it had found in its self-check that some of its baby milk powder products were contaminated by tripolycyanamide.
It has decided to recall all the baby milk powder it had produced before August 6 this year.
Recently, quite a number of infant kidney stone cases were reported in Gansu and other provinces. One year ago, on September 2 2007, CCTV’s “Weekly Quality Report” program had a glowing report on the baby formula production process at Sanlu.
The Shijiazhuang-based Sanlu Group, China’s largest milk-powder company, is also the only official supplier of milk products for China Astronaut Research and Training Center. New Zealand’s largest dairy exporter, Fonterra Co-operative Group, reportedly bought a 43% stake in Sanlu Group in 2005.