China's infant formula scandal widens

Sept. 15, 2008 at 4:02 PM

BEIJING, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- China's infant formula contamination case as grown as officials disclosing two babies have died and 1,253 others have been sickened.

Meanwhile, Xinhau reported Monday two brothers have been arrested for allegedly selling tons of the tainted milk powder daily for months have been arrested.

Chinese authorities said 340 infants remain hospitalized in the food safety scandal whose dimensions are only now becoming apparent, The New York Times reported.

Officials said the tainted formula, traced to the Sanlu Group, was laced with melamine, a protein additive sometimes used in plastics and fertilizer. It's the same additive at the center of last year's pet food scare in the United States, when U.S. authorities connected the contamination to Chinese animal feed, the newspaper said.

The contamination caused kidney stones to develop in the babies, most of whom were not considered dangerously ill, officials said. Ma Shaowei, a vice health minister, told reporters many of them are from poverty-stricken areas such as Gansu province, as well as Hebei and Jiangsu provinces, the Times said.

Shi Guizhong, a police spokesman in Hebei province, told Xinhua the two suspects face charges of producing and selling toxic and hazardous food, which they allegedly sold to Sanlu.

They are the first to be charged in the case, though 19 people have been detained and dozens more questioned, the state-run news agency said.

The government in Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei province, said Monday more than 10,000 tons of the tainted formula that has been seized and recalled will be destroyed, Xinhua reported.

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