China orders probe into tainted milk powder

Chinese authorities are to check tainted milk powder reports after a number of babies started to grow breasts prematurely…

China’s health ministry has ordered food safety authorities in central Hubei province to launch an investigation after reports that hormones in milk powder has caused baby girls to grow breasts.

Parents and doctors expressed fears that hormones in the baby formula made by NASDAQ-listed company Synutra had caused babies to develop adult breasts.

Medical tests indicated the levels of hormones in three girls, ranging in age from four to 15-months and who were fed the same baby formula, exceeded those of the average adult woman, China Daily reported yesterday.

Synutra insisted in a statement that its products were safe and that no man-made hormones or illegal substances had been added during production. However, the company’s shares plunged 27 percent on Monday in New York to 12.72 dollars, their steepest fall since China’s 2008 tainted milk scandal.

Two years ago, at least six children died and nearly 300,000 became ill from drinking powdered milk laced with melamine, an industrial compound added to fool inspectors by giving misleadingly high results in protein tests.

Melamine can cause kidney stones, and is used to make plastics, fertilisers and concrete. Its high nitrogen content allows protein levels to appear higher when added to milk or animal feed, allowing traders to disguise substandard products.

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