China warns of tough action on baby food contaminators(Lead)

September 12th, 2008 - 7:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Sep 12 (Xinhua) China’s health ministry said Friday that it has launched a nationwide investigation into contaminated Sanlu baby milk formula and warned those responsible would face “severe punishment”.It ordered all local health agencies to report cases of infants with kidney stones immediately. InGansu province, many babies were reported to ahve ill and one died after consuming the contaminated milk.

A laboratory testing by Sanlu found tripolycyanamide, also known as melamine, in 700 tonnes of its milk powder for babies.

Health experts said melamine is a chemical raw material. Ingestion can lead to reproductive damage, or bladder or kidney stones.

A thermosetting plastic, melamine has an appearance similar to milk powder. It is widely used in manufacturing fabrics, glues, housewares and flame retardants.

“The substance gives the appearance of a high nitrogen level, which is an index to measure the protein content in food,” a health expert told Xinhua. He declined to be named.

Dozens of babies in the Gansu province are reportedly sick. One died after drinking the contaminated forumla.

Lu Yuan, a urologist with the No. 1 Hospital of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, said kidney stones could bring serious problems to the baby’s brains, hearts, lungs, kidneys and livers.

Lu’s hospital, based in Gansu’s capital Lanzhou has received 14 such infant patients, six have already been cured and eight are still being treated.

The health ministry has issued a treatment regime on its official website to help local hospitals deal with sick babies.

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