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Friday, September 19, 2008

Three of China's best-known brands of liquid milk were tainted with melamine, the chemical at the centre of an expanding health scare

China's milk scandal spreads to Olympic brand
Article on the Telegraph


"The government released the findings as it tried to play down the scandal, which began with baby milk but is rapidly spreading to wider distrust inside the country of "made in China" products.

Singapore on Friday suspended the import and sale of all milk and milk products from China after local tests found samples containing the potentially deadly industrial chemical melamine.

Some online commentators are expressing disgust that milk from one of the brands, an Olympic sponsor, was produced separately, tested and cleared for use in Olympic venues.

"Melamine for us, safety for our guests," said one wry comment.

The latest tests were carried out on supermarket milk from more than 400 suppliers, including foreign firms such as Nestle. The government said 24 batches of milk from 295 samples taken from three brands - Mengniu, Yili, and Guangming - were found to be tainted with melamine.

By Friday night, 300 of Starbucks’ 330 outlets in China were only serving soy milk in their coffees.

The chemical is alleged to have been added to watered down raw milk supplies by farmers and middlemen to boost its protein readings. It can cause kidney stones, and has been blamed for the deaths of four babies who drank milk made from formula from China's largest low-cost producer, Sanlu.

According to the latest figures, 6,244 babies have fallen sick and 158 are suffering acute kidney failure.

Mengniu, whose successful television sponsorships and reputation for quality have made it a darling of investors, is listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange and is involved in joint ventures with European partners.

Yili was the sponsor, and milk supplier, for the Beijing Olympics, but a senior health official said that special measures had been taken.

"We applied special scanning management procedures for all Olympic products," the official, Li Changjiang, said. "All stages of food product supplies, including milk products, were strictly monitored step-by-step by us, with no loopholes in the process."

Mengniu and Yili are China's biggest dairy companies. Mengniu was sole supplier for Starbucks in China, until its involvement in the scandal was confirmed."