Three jailed over melamine-tainted dairy foods in Shanghai

21:47, March 03, 2010      

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A Shanghai court Wednesday sentenced three people to jail terms of three to five years for their roles in the the production and sale of melamine-tainted dairy products.

They were convicted at the Fengxian District People's Court of producing and selling toxic food.

Wang Yuechao, former corporate representative and deputy general manager of Shanghai Panda Dairy Co., was sentenced to five years and fined 400,000 yuan (58,823 U.S. dollars).

Hong Qide, former general manager of the company, was sentenced to four years and six months and fined 300,000 yuan.

Chen Dehua, former deputy general manager of the company, was sentenced to three years in jail and fined 200,000 yuan.

The three were accused of deliberately making milk flavoring with melamine-tainted condensed milk that was returned by a dealer from the southeastern province of Fujian in the wake of the 2008 toxic milk powder scandal.

At a meeting in December 2008 with another three people who are to stand trial later, the trio agreed to produce milk flavoring with returned dairy products to reduce economic losses, prosecutors said.

The dairy plant was found to have produced 6,520 cans of milk flavoring from Feb. 7 to April 21 last year. Some of the condensed milk it used had passed its use-by date. It sold 3,280 cans, of which 94 percent had been recalled.

Some of the milk flavoring was found to contain up to 34.1 mg of melamine per kilo, much higher than the government permitted maximum level of 2.5 mg per kilo.

Shanghai Panda Dairy was shut down after its milk powder and milk flavoring were found to contain excessive melamine in April last year. The three were officially arrested in June.

Melamine can cause kidney stones and kidney failure. It was added to milk to artificially boost protein levels.

The toxic milk powder scandal in 2008 killed at least six infants and sickened 300,000 children across the country. Milk powder from 22 dairy plants, including Shanghai Panda Dairy, was then found to have excessive melamine.

Contaminated milk resurfaced last year after some dairy plants used leftover melamine-tainted milk powder that should have been destroyed in 2008.

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