Chinese police arrest 22 over contaminated baby milk scandal
Police in a northern Chinese province have arrested 22 people suspected of contaminating milk powder, official state media has reported.
Health officials say as many as 53,000 children have been taken ill with kidney problems and four have died after drinking milk formula contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine.
The 22 suspects were held over their involvement in introducing the chemical into the supply chain. Police in the northern province of Hebei raided dozens of diary farms and milk purchasing stations and seized more than 220kg of the industrial chemical, said the China Daily.
The newspaper said 19 of those held were managers at dairy pastures, breeding farms and milk purchasing stations. ‘According to the police investigation, melamine was produced in underground plants and then sold to breeding farms and purchasing stations,’ reported the paper.
Dairy products, chocolate, sweets and biscuits have all been found to include remnants of melamine, which is more commonly found in plastic.
The chemical was added to the watered-down milk formula to ‘bulk’ it up and seem richer in protein. However, melamine causes kidney stones when consumed.
State media says the World Health Organisation has accused China of a cover-up over the scandal. The WHO reportedly says Sanlu, the company behind the contamination, knew about the problems in June but did not alert authorities until the beginning of August.
The China Daily also said officials have vowed to clean up milk production, after a number of countries banned imports of Chinese milk products following the scandal.