Melamine Scandal Continues

Due to the tainted milk scandal, the Chinese dairy industry is suffering with exports falling an incredible 92% from October 2007 to October 2008.  Currently, over 850 children are in hospital, 154 of them still in serious condition.

The Taipei Times charged that the Chinese government “often deliberately releases information piecemeal in part to keep from feeding public anger.”  The Chinese government has reported that milk contamination resulted in a total of six deaths, but some parents of deceased children claim that their cases were not counted:

“When the county health bureau first came to us, they said my child died because of the milk powder,” said apple farmer Tian Xiaowei of Shaanxi Province, whose year-old boy died in August. “But later when the case was reported to the district health authority, they said there’s no proof that the death was linked with milk powder.”

In Henan, Li Shenyi, the uncle of a 9-month-old girl who died of kidney failure in September, also said he had not been contacted by local health authorities on whether the child’s death has been classified as caused by tainted formula.

Without the official verdict, families fear they will be refused compensation promised by the government through the Health Ministry, which has also said it would provide free medical treatment for children sickened by tainted milk… A Beijing lawyer who has provided legal assistance to families of children who became ill said there was still no word of compensation. He added there were likely even more deaths that had not been counted yet.

“I assume that the government is worried about the situation of the dairies and is afraid the companies may fall if they have to pay for the compensation amid the current financial crisis,” Chang Boyang said. “I believe there may be more deaths because some of the parents might not even report the cases to the government.”

In related news, Hong Kong authorities have announced that they have found melamine in eggs from Jilin province and are currently trying to find bakeries that may have purchased and used these tainted eggs.  Out of 307 egg samples tested recently in Hong Kong, four were discovered to contain more than the legal limit of melamine, that of 2.5 ppm.

See also Hong Kong’s Center for Food Safety FAQ page on melamine.

See also past posts for more information on the milk scandal.


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