In a report Wednesday, the newspaper questioned whether there'd been any cover up by the quality inspectors until last week when the company was shut down.
However, Yan Fengmin, deputy director at the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, told the newspaper the delay was because the case was under criminal investigation. He was quoted as saying the Shanghai government was informed immediately after the case was found and all tainted products were seized.
The official said the case had nothing to do with last year's huge milk scandal in which six babies died and about 300,000 more were sickened, the report said.
Following the closure of Shanghai Panda Dairy Co., three of its executives, including the board chairman, general manager and deputy general manager, were arrested, accused of selling dairy products tainted with the toxic chemical melamine. The tainted products included a batch of milk powder for elderly people, four batches of milk powder and four batches of condensed milk, China Daily reported, quoting officials.
The report said a media investigation later found local authorities had discovered the contamination on Dec. 30, 2008, and an investigation was started last February. That meant the discovery was not disclosed to the public for about a year, the report said.
Yan denied media reports the raw material of the tainted products was left over from products involved in last year's milk scandal in which 22 diary companies, including Shanghai Panda, were found to be involved.
However, a former chairman of the Guangdong Provincial Dairy Association told the newspaper: "The latest contamination shows some tainted products in 2008 must have slipped through the fingers of quality inspectors."