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Millions paid to 2008 milk scandal victims

By Wang Qingyun and Shan Juan (China Daily)

08:21, May 17, 2012

As of the end of 2011, more than 12 million yuan ($1.9 million) in compensation has been paid to children poisoned by milk contaminated with melamine, insurance company China Life announced on its website on Monday.

Six infants were killed and about 300,000 others were sickened after drinking tainted milk in 2008, according to data released by the Ministry of Health. Former dairy giant Sanlu Group, based in North China's Hebei province, and 21 other dairy companies were found to have contaminated their products with melamine, a chemical that could cause kidney problems.

Through the mediation of China Dairy Industry Association, the 22 companies set up a fund worth 200 million yuan to compensate victims and their families. The money will be used to treat any chronic symptoms victims may experience as a result of the poisoning before they turn 18.

China Life is being entrusted by the association with managing the fund. Launched in July 2009, the fund had been used to treat 2,055 children by the end of 2011, according to the online announcement of China Life. Nearly 3.4 million yuan of that was paid to 512 children in 2011, according to the announcement.

The tainted milk scandal drew national attention when 14 infants below the age of 1 in Northwest China's Gansu province were diagnosed with kidney stones in 2008.

Soon thereafter, more cases from various provinces were reported and in September, the health department of Northwest China's Gansu province announced that the 59 sickened infants had all consumed the same brand of powdered milk.

One day later, Sanlu Group, which went bankrupt five months after the scandal broke, admitted that its milk farmers adulterated their dairy products with melamine in order to pass tests of the protein content.

Meanwhile, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine conducted an inspection of 109 companies that were making infant formula, and 22 of them had made tainted powdered milk for infants, including Sanlu Group.

These companies altogether allocated 1.11 billion yuan to compensate the infants and their families. Of this figure, 910 million yuan is for initial compensation, and the other 200 million is used as a medical compensation fund.

The tainted milk scandal had a long-term impact on consumption trends among the general public.

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