Six infants died, 294,000 took ill in China milk scandal (Roundup)

December 3rd, 2008 - 12:31 am ICT by IANS  

ShaanBeijing, Dec 2 (DPA) At least six infants died and 294,000 were taken ill as they were fed milk contaminated with melamine, the Chinese health ministry said Tuesday.Four months after the scandal of melamine contamination was revealed, 861 infants and babies are still hospitalized with kidney problems. A total of 154 infants are in a serious but stable condition, the ministry said.

The six fatalities included three babies whose deaths were reported earlier as a result of the contamination. Two deaths occurred in Gansu province, and one each in the provinces of Jiangxi, Zhejiang, Guizhou and Shaanxi.

About 294,000 infants fell sick, with 51,900 requiring hospital treatment, mostly after developing kidney stones from milk formula tainted with melamine, a binding agent used for making fertilisers and coating fibres in furniture production.

The number of children taken ill was about five times higher than originally thought.

The use of the chemical was widespread in China’s milk and formula production because it made products appear to have a higher degree of protein.

Tens of thousands of tonnes of milk and dairy products were withdrawn from the market after high levels of melamine were also found in some fresh milk, long-life milk, yoghurt and sweets.

The chemical was also found in eggs and egg products as melamine was also used to produce fake-quality foodstuffs for animals.

As a result of the scandal, exports of Chinese dairy products plunged 92 percent in October compared to the same month of the previous year, the newspaper China Daily reported.

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