Two Chinese babies dead after consuming tainted milk powder

Beijing, Sept. 15 : Two Chinese infants have died after consuming contaminated milk powder.

A Xinhua report said that they were 1,253 babies infected with kidney stones after taking contaminated milk powders.

Health Ministry sources were quoted by the agency as saying that most of the infections occurred in Hebei, Jiangsu and Gansu provinces.

The two deaths took place in Gansu Province, they added.

Among the 1,253 infected, 53 babies are still in a critical state, while 340 were receiving treatment in various hospitals.

The remaining 913 with light symptoms are either receiving treatments outside hospital or already cured, said the ministry.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Agriculture Ministry has launched an inspection of the country''s dairy industry.

Six ministry teams were dispatched to the country''s six major milk-producing regions, including Beijing, Hebei, Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang in the north, Xinjiang in the west and the central Henan Province.

The officials will talk to dairy farmers, feedstuff producers, operators of milk collection stations and supermarket managers to find out their concerns and suggestions.

They will try to assess the impact the Sanlu baby formula scandal on the dairy industry and put forward policy proposals on how to protect farmers'' interests and promote the stable development of the dairy industry.

They will also investigate various links, such as price changes in raw milk and dairy products, problems in raw milk purchase and flaws in milk station management, among others.

Two brothers who operated a private milk collection station in Hebei were arrested for putting melamine into raw milk and selling the tainted milk to the Sanlu Group, the producer of the infant formula that gave 432 babies kidney stones, according to local police.

Melamine, a chemical used in plastics, contains nitrogen and can make the protein content in diluted milk appear higher, said food science expert Ren Fazheng of the China Agricultural University.

In 2006, China had about 1,600 dairy producers with a total annual capacity exceeding 50 million tonnes, while dairy output totaled 33 million tonnes. (ANI)