VARIOUS: Milk products recall continues in Taiwan and Japan while the number of children infected in China rises
- Title: VARIOUS: Milk products recall continues in Taiwan and Japan while the number of children infected in China rises
- Date: 22nd September 2008
- Summary: (ASIA) BEIJING, CHINA (SEPTEMBER 22, 2008) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF BEIJING CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL SIGN SAYING BEIJING CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL
- Reuters ID: LVA98HVI12DJD74QA78L1G90EXOS
- Duration: 00:00:10
- Aspect Ratio:
- Topics: Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes,Health
- Story Text: Panicked parents crowd Chinese hospitals to do free check-ups for their children as the latest contaminated milk scandal spreads all over the country and abroad.
Crowds of Chinese parents flocked to a Beijing hospital on Monday (September 22), bringing their infants to free health checks as the Chinese government investigates the increasing amount of children sick from contaminated milk.
The number of Chinese infants in hospital after drinking tainted milk formula has leapt to nearly 13,000, state media reported on Friday, with more than 54,000 affected and 39,965 treated in clinics.
Panicked parents have crowded China's hospitals and demanded redress since officials and the Sanlu Group, the country's biggest maker of infant milk powder, said two weeks ago that babies developed kidney stones and other complications after drinking the tainted milk.
Sanlu failed to publicly disclose the problem for at least a month, while Beijing hosted the Olympic Games in August, officials have said.
Nitrogen-rich melamine can be added to watered-down milk to fool quality checks, which often use nitrogen levels to measure protein.
China's food quality watchdog has said it also found melamine in some liquid milk.
The government has promised free treatment for stricken children, but some parents said they worried about long-term complications and costs.
"I feel horrified when I look back at what had happened. As a mother, when I heard that some liquid milk had problems as well, I was so angry. What shall we eat to guarantee the safety of our body? I'm wondering if there are any more problematic products that haven't been exposed," said a Chinese mother.
China's decades long family planning policy has left most families with only one child, who in turn have become the center of attention and care in their family.
Some parents are making their own plans for protecting their children from contaminated food.
"We decided to breast feed our child along with some cereals. We also plan to use the grinder mixer to make food for her or mainly feed her with flour and rice," said a father Mr. Yan.
Over 80 percent of the sick were under two years old.
So far, four deaths have been blamed on toxic milk powder causing kidney stones and agonising complications, and 104 children are in a serious condition.
In Taiwan, a Taiwanese company recalled its coffee drinks from the shelves after discovering their product contained traces of melamine.
Taiwan Economic News reported that King Car Company had withdrawn 120,000 boxes of its products, at a cost of roughly $6,218,905 U.S. dollars after voluntary testing revealed they contained melamine contaminated milk.
The recalled products included the Mr Brown coffee drink and powdered soup packets which used substances generated from melamine laced milk imported from China, said the Taiwan Economic News.
"Here you can see eight kinds of products which have been contaminated by the tainted milk powder. We retrieved most of the products, the rest are on the way back," said Xiao Ming, the Vice Director of a King Car Company factory.
China's Premier Wen Jiabao threatened harsh punishment for culprits in the latest blight on the "made-in-China" brand which has left some Taiwanese customers worried for their health.
"I bought a box of instant coffee. I have two bags left. I do not know if I should feel happy or sad now. Because I have drunk so much of the coffee. I also shared them with my colleagues. I don't know if they affect me or not, but I believe they will," said Lin Zhineng, sitting in a Taipei coffee shop.
Tests carried out by China's food quality watchdog have found melamine in nearly 10 percent of milk and drinking yoghurt samples from three major dairy companies: Mengniu Dairy Co, the Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group and the Bright group.
Some customers believed that the Chinese government must show willing to regain its consumers trust and to work for greater transparency.
"I think the Chinese government should have a better attitude to facing its problems. They are also bad with circulating information. They should improve if they want their economy to move forward. Because if the world cannot trust them then they will lose a lot of opportunities," said Nita Zhang.
Melamine contaminated products have been exported to several countries.
In Japan, local media reported on Saturday (September 20) that Marudai Food Co would voluntarily recall some products procured by a Chinese subsidiary and sold in Japan that it suspected may contain melamine.
Japanese media reported on Monday that it had sent investigators to its factories in Shandong province, China to examine its product line.
While no health problems have yet to be reported in Japan, Marudai said it was recalling a total of 3,500 bags of five different products made in China and suspected of possibly using milk with the toxin melamine.
Premier Wen has said that dairy products that passed safety tests would be labelled so that consumers can "be at ease".
But many other countries and regions have clamped down on China's milk products with Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan banning or recalling some milk products.
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