10/15/2008, 00.00
CHINA
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Beijing pulls all pre-14 September dairy products off the shelves

China’s central government removes all dairy products that pre-date melamine scandal. Dairy products must pass new government tests before sale, but some retailers are still selling tainted products.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – China has ordered the withdrawal of all liquid and powdered milk products made before the melamine scandal broke to help restore confidence at home and abroad and jumpstart consumption. The products could go on sale again if they passed quality tests and were labelled safe, the Xinhua news agency said.

Since 14 September four children have died and 54,000 have become ill from tainted infant formula, this according to data published late last month. Since then though, no more data have been released.

The data indicated that melamine was used in other products like fresh milk, chocolate, candies and yogurt. 

The order, approved by six government ministries and administrations, requires shops across China to take off the shelves all liquid and powdered milk produced before 14 September, including those brands that have previously passed the government's quality tests are not exempt. These dairy products can go back on sale again once they pass new safety tests and are labelled as safe.

However, some international news agencies have reported that the order has so far not been strictly heeded and some stores are still selling dairy products without quality checks or new labels.

Last Friday the state council (cabinet) has adopted a decree whereby food safety violators can be “sentenced to death.”

Anyone involved anywhere along the chain of production, from the farmer and producer to the distributor and final retailer can be punished.

Violators will be subject to stiff penalties. Anyone responsible for toxic children’s products could get the death sentence, a penalty imposed on anyone who “deliberately adds unlawful substances to fresh milk.”

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