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China seizes tainted milk less than 2 years after scandal

Health enforcement officers check labels on milk powders at a store in east China's Anhui province.
Health enforcement officers check labels on milk powders at a store in east China's Anhui province.
  • China Daily: Milk from a batch recalled in September 2008
  • Six babies died in tainted milk scandal in 2008
  • New tainted milk made as debt payment to a company
  • Authorities had ordered all bad milk destroyed
  • China
  • Food Safety
  • Beijing

Beijing, China (CNN) -- Chinese authorities have seized 72 tons of milk powder tainted with melamine and are trying to track down an additional 100 tons, less than two years after contaminated milk killed babies and sickened people across China.

The seized milk powder is from a batch that was recalled in September 2008 after it killed six babies and sickened 300,000 people, state-media reported Monday.

The powder had been ordered destroyed, but a dairy firm in the Ningxia Hua autonomous region received the batch as debt payment from another company, said the China Daily newspaper. The company then sold the milk to five other factories in Fujian and Guangdong provinces and in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region.

On Saturday, authorities shut down the company.

The tainted milk, which was mostly baby formula, first came to light in September 2008, after children fell ill. State media has not said whether any sickness or deaths have been linked to the remaining powder.

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Melamine is commonly used in coatings and laminates, wood adhesives, fabric coatings, ceiling tiles and flame retardants. Some Chinese dairy plants added the chemical to milk products so they would appear to have a higher protein level.

The tainted milk caused kidney stones and urinary tract problems in hundreds of thousands of children.

The 22 Chinese dairy producers that made the formula have offered compensation to victims' families, many of whom have decried such payments as inadequate.

At least two people have been executed for their role in the scandal.