Shaanxi dairy repackages melamine-tainted milk powder


Chinese Business View
December 11, 2009

More than a year after China’s dairy industry was rocked by a milk additive scandal, and

less than a month after two people were executed for their role in the deaths of six children, melamine-tainted milk is back in the news.

In November, more than five tons of tainted milk seized from a dairy in Shaanxi Province was repackaged and shipped off to a company in Guangxi Autonomous Region. Authorities have arrested three dairy employees, including the general manager of the Shaanxi Jinqiao Diary Company.

Xi’an-based Chinese Business View featured the story on its front page today. Here’s the paper’s summary of events:

October 2008: 5.25 tons of light whole milk powder containing melamine uncovered by the Provincial Quality Supervision and Inspection Center held at the Jingyang County Quality Supervision and Inspection Center.

November 2008: Jinqiao Dairy request a re-inspection and places what it believes to be acceptable products in a readily-testable location.

November 18, 2008: Xi’an QS&A test results come back acceptable.

Early September 2009: Yueqian Company of Nanning, Guangxi requires 5 tons of light whole milk powder and 5 tons of whole milk powder. Five tons of this come from the Jinqiao Dairy, which repackages its 5.25 tons of tainted milk powder and ships it off to Guangxi.

Early November: Yueqian discovers 200 bags of light whole milk powder that contain melamine and returns them. Retesting at the QS&A center reveals that eleven bags containing 275 kilos of milk powder have excessive levels of melamine.

If the whole shipment of 5.25 tons was contaminated, why did the inspection center only find excessive melamine in 275 kilos? Chinese Business View reporter tried unsuccessfully to obtain an answer from Shaanxi police:

At yesterday’s press conference, this reporter questioned a number of uncertainties. Xu Qiang, deputy head of the provincial Public Security Bureau, provided answers.

Q: At what stage did the problem occur?

A: We cannot rule out the possibility that the problem occurred in production.

Q: Was the amount of tainted milk powder 5.25 tons, or 275 kilos in 11 bags?

A: There was 0.1 tons in 4 bags of lot #2008.5.16 and 5.15 tons in 206 bags of lot #2008.9.24, for a total of 5.25 tons of light whole milk powder that was found by the provincial QS&A center to contain melamine. Therefore, all 5.25 tons is tainted. This tainted milk powder was repackaged under new lot numbers as 5 tons of light whole milk powder in 200 yellow bags. Finally, the inspection agencies found that 11 of these bags contained excessive levels of melamine.

Q: In that description, there were only four bags, or 0.1 tons, of lot #2008.5.16 milk. Did the inspection team determine whether that was the total amount of that lot produced by the company, or if that amount was all that was left unsold?

A: Although the three suspects have been arrested, the inspection work is still ongoing. As for your question, the answer will come to light after further investigation and through consultation of the company production records.

Q: Melamine is an additive. At what point did it enter the process?

A: At the end of November, no melamine was discovered in two tests of 45 cows and 51 feed samples in lots under Jinqiao’s control, and in tests of of 20 goat milk samples and 10 feed samples from associated farmers. There is no problem with the source, so we cannot rule out the possibility that the problem was introduced during processing.

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