Cobbled Update of Melamine in Chinese Baby Formula
Melamine-tainted infant formula is now linked to more than 6240 cases of renal stones as of Wednesday, reports WHO. Melamine has been found in products of at least 22 dairy manufacturers in China, with levels ranging from 0.09 to 2.560 mg/kg.
There is also a concern that melamine may turn up in other dairy products, like ice cream. The possible extent of the contamination has caused a nationwide panic among parents, reports the Chinese news agency Xinhua. Today’s report also increases the number of melamine-related deaths to 4.
WHO reports that Sanlu, an original source of the tainted formula, received a complaint of illness as early as March of this year and, according to Forbes, Sanlu was urged in early August by its majority owner, New Zealand’s Fonterra Cooperative Group, to initiate a product recall. However, Sanlu (in possible collusion with Chinese government officials) delayed the recall to avoid a PR scandal during the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing.
Sanlu claims that one of its raw milk suppliers used melamine to artificially boost the product’s protein content, wrote Scientific American on Tuesday.
Depiction of melamine chemical structure from Wikipedia.
9/22/08 update: Melamine-tainted infant formula has now sickened 52,857 Chinese children and resulted in the hospitalization of 12,892, reports the AP. More than 80% of those hospitalized were or are 2 years of age or younger, and 104 were or are in serious condition. The latest news report also confirms 4 related deaths. The uptick in ill children may be due to the review of earlier hospital records, from May through August. In addition, the head of the Chinese agency that monitors food and product safety, who had held the position since 2001, resigned.