China Raises Tainted Milk Death Count To Two (Updated)

Reuters reports on the second infant death in the milk scandal.

China on Monday reported one more infant death from tainted milk powder, bringing to two the number of babies killed in an expanding scandal that drew an official product recall only after New Zealand blew the whistle.

The latest death blamed on infant milk powder made by the Sanlu Group occurred in Gansu province, a poor region in the northwest that was also home to the only other fatality blamed on chemical-laced milk, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

China has recorded nearly 500 babies falling ill from the tainted milk powder, including 102 in Gansu.

In the most recent addition to the Sanlu milk scare story comes news that the melamine source may have originated from private milk-collecting stations. From AFP:

“It’s unlikely that dairy farmers mixed the industrial chemical melamine in fresh milk,” it quoted Li Changjiang, who heads the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, as saying.

He added: “We believe the contamination is more likely to have occurred at milk-collecting stations.”

This is in contrast to initial statements from Sanlu Group, the company at the centre of the scandal, which fingered dairy farmers for the contamination, the paper said.

For more background on the shifting responsibility over the chemical contamination, see this CDT link.

UPDATE: Today (9/15/08) the Chinese government acknowledged that more than 1200 babies, twice the number originally reported yesterday, have been affected by the tainted Sanlu formula. From Al Jazeera:

Most of the 1,253 infants involved have developed kidney stones, Ma Xiaowei, the vice health minister, told reporters on Monday.

A second baby had also died of kidney failure after drinking Sanlu brand milk powder containing the industrial chemical melamine, the health ministry also said.

See also “Chinese Baby Formula Scandal Widens” from the New York Times.

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