16 Oct 2008

China orders milk product recall

6:15 am on 16 October 2008

China has ordered the withdrawal of all liquid and powdered milk made more than a month ago to help restore confidence after a toxic milk scandal.

Xinhua news agency said the products could go on sale again if they pass quality tests and were labelled safe.

Four babies have died and more than 63,000 children have been made ill with kidney problems as a result of drinking infant milk formula tainted with an industrial chemical, melamine.

Milk supplies are believed to have been deliberately tainted to give the appearance of a higher protein content.

It is the first time the Chinese government has issued a blanket recall of products since the tainted milk scandal emerged last month.

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.

Even those brands that have previously passed government quality tests are not exempt.

The milk products can be placed back on sale again once they pass new safety tests and are labelled as safe.


Milk tainted with melamine has so far caused kidney problems in thousands of Chinese children and sparked product recalls and bans both at home and abroad.

Some suppliers have been arrested, accused of adding the industrial chemical to watered-down milk to fool quality control tests and make it appear rich in protein.

Various local and national officials for negligence have been dismissed.

Last week, three Chinese dairy companies publicly apologised for their involvement in the scandal.

Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group, Mengniu Dairy and Bright Dairy Group were found earlier to have produced milk contaminated with melamine.

Another company involved in the scandal is Sanlu - which is 43% owned by the New Zealand company Fonterra.

Fonterra says it is donating $8.4 million to help establish an infant healthcare programme in China.