Dairy farmers arrested for putting poison in milk

08:25, April 12, 2011      

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A couple living in northwestern Gansu Province who own two dairy farms poisoned the milk, killing three babies and sickened 36 others, local police said Monday after an initial investigation.

Investigators found that nitrite, an industrial salt that can be deadly, had been added to fresh milk from the two dairies. The poisoning case, first reported by online blogs, has aroused national condemnation.

The two suspects, identified by their surnames as Wu and Ma and residents of Pingliang City, Gansu, were arrested after police found that the food poisoning was an act of homicide. Local police didn't disclose the couple's motives.

High concentrations of nitrite were found in samples of the farms' milk and victims' vomit, said local police.

A report by the official Xinhua News Agency Monday quoted local villagers living in the vicinity of the couple as saying "vicious competition among farm owners" might be involved. Nitrite is a chemical addictive used to make dyes which also preserves meat.

Most of the 36 people poisoned in the incident were under the age of 14, police said. The youngest of the fatalities was merely 36 days old. All the victims had developed food poisoning symptoms after drinking the tainted milk.

The two dairy farms have been shut down shortly after the incident. Stringent citywide quality checks have been launched at dairy farms, milk distribution stations, food producers and restaurants to ensure food safety.

"Thirty-one people had been discharged from hospital by noon," Wu Zhen-tu, a spokesman for Pingliang city government, said Monday. "Food poisoning symptoms have disappeared in the other five." The local government will cover medical expenses for the infected patients, Wu said.

"We have collected samples from all dairy farms which produce bulk milk, and all samples have passed quality tests," Wu said.

By People's Daily Online
 
 
     
 
 
 
     
 
 
 
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(Editor:梁军)

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