December 15, 2008


China probing 27 cases of melamine-tainted animal feed



Chinese police are investigating 27 cases of melamine-laced animal feed, state media said Monday (December 15), three months after the industrial chemical was detected in milk, triggering a worldwide food scandal.


The Ministry of Agriculture examined 22,700 batches of feed throughout the country, and found 545, or 2.4 percent, were found to contain excessive melamine, the official China Daily reported.


Twenty-seven cases had been transferred to police for further investigation, the report said, citing Wang Xiaohong, a top official at the ministry's National Feed Office.


The government said this month at least six children may have died in China after drinking milk laced with melamine, a chemical normally used to make plastic, and a further 294,000 suffered kidney-related problems.


The scandal, which came to light in September, caused international concern and led to recalls and bans of Chinese-made dairy products around the world.


The melamine was mixed into watered-down milk so dairy products would have the appearance of higher protein content.


The scandal widened when eggs sent from the mainland to Hong Kong were also discovered to contain melamine in October, with the chemical similarly added to chicken feed to give it the appearance of more protein.


China is the largest feed and feed additive exporter after the United States, with output estimated to be 131 million tonnes this year, according to the China Daily.


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