Tainted milk sickens 50,000 babies

Sept. 22, 2008 at 6:50 AM
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BEIJING, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- The number of babies sickened by tainted milk products in China totals more than 50,000, with four dead and another 104 seriously ill.

The Chinese Health Ministry said of those sickened, about 12,900 had been hospitalized, among whom 104 were seriously ill, the China Daily reported.

CNN reported another 40,000 sick children underwent outpatient treatment after consuming suspected melamine-tainted milk products. Chinese reports said a vast majority of them are younger than 3.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao told senior officials that official misconduct contributed to the milk contamination and earlier product scandals, the report said.

"In some places, incidents of food and production safety have continuously arisen and seriously harmed people's lives and health," Wen was quoted as telling Xinhua News Agency. "The social impact is vile and the lesson profound."

China Daily said that in a statement posted on its Web site Sunday, the Health Ministry said the sick children had consumed milk made from milk powder, most of it produced by the Sanlu Group.

It said authorities worked through the weekend to allay public concerns over the widespread milk contamination. It said local officials were being punished even as inspections of dairy products continued across the nation.

Japan has joined Singapore in recalling Chinese-made dairy products.

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