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UPDATED: 16:07, May 17, 2004
"Killer" milk powder probe continues
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The inferior milk powder incident, which was exposed to the public in April in Fuyang City, Anhui Province, has caused 12 babies dead and 40 enterprises of 10 regions were found involved, according to the preliminary results of an official investigation published in Beijing Sunday.

Under the instruction by Premier Wen Jiabao, the State Council organized a special team in late April to launch a thorough investigation into the inferior milk powder incident in the city and in other areas.

To date, many facts on the case, including production sources, distribution channels and distribution scopes of the substandard milk powders, as well as how the substandard milk powder causing diseases, have been made clear, according to the investigators.

The investigators found that a total of 12 babies have so far died of malnutrition after being fed with substandard milk powder, rather than 13 as previous reports said. Three of the 13 reportedly deaths have been found linked to other diseases, while two new baby deaths have been confirmed to be caused by substandard milk powder.

Other 229 babies were found suffering nutritional deficiencies due to fake milk powders. Twenty-eight babies of them are still under medical treatment in hospitals, the investigation team said.

The investigators have found through hygienic investigation that some lawbreakers produced milk powder by starch, sugar, milk essence and other cheap ingredients, making the milk powder deficient in protein, fat, vitamin, which are necessary for child growth.

Neither poisonous materials, such as lead and arsenic, nor hormones were discovered in the substandard milk powder. Therefore, babies were dead or ill because of nutritious deficiency, rather than being poisoned, the investigators concluded.

The team found 55 types of substandard milk powder were sold in Fuyang City.

They were produced by 40 enterprises in 10 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities and were sold to Fuyang mainly through Wankelai market in Zhengzhou of central China's Henan Province, Changjiang wholesale market in Hefei, capital of Anhui Province, and Taipingjie market in Bengbu of Anhui Province.

To date, local law enforcement departments have arrested 31 criminal suspects and detained 47 people. More than 100,000 bags of milk powder have been confiscated.

Zheng Xiaoyu, head of the State Food and Drug Administration and the State Council's investigation team said further investigation will be conducted and those responsible for the incident will be dealt with according to law.

Source: Xinhua

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