Westerners first need to know this is a show trial conducted before state media. The second thing to know is that melamine, which is poisonous to humans in great enough concentrations, had been routinely mixed into food products in China for years — and other similar tainted substances for decades. The reason this issue exploded on to the international scene was the deaths of children — not the communist government’s honesty and righteousness….
I pesonally saw improper use of chemicals like animal feed and fertilizer added to food products in China in the 1970s — so this issue is not new. The New York Times investigated this issue in 2007 and found the use of melamine “an open secret” amoung tens of thousands of farmers.
It is good the world community is now aware of this practice and that China is taking action….
A former dairy boss who could face the death penalty in China’s tainted milk scandal testified Wednesday that she began investigating milk-quality issues in May but did not notify authorities until August, a state news agency said.
Tian Wenhua, former board chairwoman and general manager of Sanlu Group Co., went on trial along with three other top executives over infant formula contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine, the Xinhua News Agency said. They could be executed if convicted, the China Daily newspaper reported.
By ANITA CHANG, Associated Press Writer
In this Sept. 18, 2008 file photo, a child cries as he waits for ultrasound exam to look for problems related to consuming tainted milk formula at a hospital in Shi Jiazhuang, north China’s Hebei province. The companies whose tainted milk products sickened nearly 300,000 children and were blamed in the deaths of six will likely pay 1.1 billion yuan ($160 million) in compensation to victims’ families, a state-run newspaper said Tuesday.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)
Melamine, commonly used to make plastics and fertilizer, has been blamed for the deaths of at least six children and sickening nearly 300,000 others.
Authorities say milk suppliers mixed the nitrogen-rich powder into raw milk in order to fool quality tests for protein. When ingested in large amounts, melamine can cause kidney stones and kidney failure.
In the lead-up to the high-profile trial and after repeated promises that China has put a lid on the problem, fresh quality scares have surfaced.
More than 1,500 boxes of Chinese biscuits exported to Hong Kong and Singapore have tested positive for melamine, local media reported Tuesday.
The melamine scare has also prompted quality inspectors to test tableware “following reports that some products contained poisonous ingredients,” Xinhua said Wednesday in a separate report.
The baby milk formula scandal has also opened up a festering debate about appropriate compensation for victims and their families.
Twenty-two local dairy companies that were found to have produced melamine-tainted milk had pledged to cover medical costs for affected children until they turn 18, the China Daily said.
But terms, which include a 2,000 yuan one-off payment for victims with “mild symptoms,” have been greeted with skepticism.
“I’ll never accept that amount,” Wu Yanfang, a mother whose 16-month girl still has a stone in her kidney, told the paper.
(Additional reporting by Nick Macfie; Editing by Dean Yates)