07/09/2010, 00.00
CHINA
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38 tonnes of melamine milk seized (again)

Milk discovered in remote regions of Gansu and Qinghai, but it seemed to have come from Hebei, where milk of the 2008 scandal was produced. The problem of food security is far from resolved. Meanwhile authorities censor all protest.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Gansu and Qinghai impounded 38 tonnes of milk containing melamine, the toxic additive that in 2008 killed at least six babies, causing permanent disabilities in over 300 thousand others.

The seized milk contains quantities of melamine more than 500 times over the permitted limit. The police fear that other batches of this milk have been shipped to the East, investigations are under way.

Melamine is used to make plastics and fertilizers, but it is poisonous to the body and causes kidney problems. It is used to adulterate food because its chemical composition is very similar to that of protein, making milk seem rich in nutrients in a superficial analysis.

When the scandal broke in September 2008 public opinion was shocked at how widespread it was, involving national primary dairy producers. There were protests and bans in many countries and China pledged strict controls and zero tolerance. Now the resurgence of poisonous milk in poor and remote regions of the country shows that the problem of food security is far from being resolved. It seems that the poisonous milk comes from Hebei, the province which also produced the toxic milk in 2008.

Authorities cracked down on some executives in 2008, condemning to death the leaders of one of the guilty companies. But they offered minimal compensation to families of sick infants, some of whom were left with permanent damage. The families can not sue for compensation because the courts in several countries have refused to hear the cases, until the authorities declare their investigation on the matter concluded. Lawyers and rights activists who help these families have been threatened.

Recently, a father whose son died from the toxic milk, and who expressed his frustration on the Internet was sentenced to a year of hard labour without trial for disturbing public order (see 07/07/2010 Father who lost child to melamine-tainted milk gets a year of hard labour)  

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Growing list of companies implicated in Chinese milk scandal
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