At least four Chinese infants have died and 53,000 have been struck ill by milk tainted with melamine, CNN reports.
The melamine was supposedly added to watered-down raw milk used to manufacture baby milk powder in order to fool health checks, since it can mimic a high-protein additive.
Two brothers, who supposedly sold the watered-down milk used to make the contaminated milk powder, were arrested and could face a death sentence if convicted.
At least 18 arrests have been made in the case.
Melamine is a common ingredient found in laminates and flame retardants.‚ Health officials say ingestion can lead to kidney stones, urinary tract ulcers and some skin and eye irritation. It also highly interferes with the nutrition level of the infant.
Thousands of tons of the sickening milk powder has been recalled so far.‚ As of now, the toll of sickness could rise astronomically, though none are sure how far this has gone.‚ Of the 53000, 13000 were hospitalized and 40000 received outpatient care.
Some of the melamine-milk powder was supposedly manufactured by Nestle, though they deny the use of melamine in any of their products in China.‚ The government is urging them to issue a recall.
Nestle announced that the amount of melamine found in their milk is not lethal.‚ “Melamine is found throughout the food chain across the world in minute traces which do not represent any health risk for consumers.”
1.4 ppm of melamine was found in one of 64 samples of Nestle’s milk in China. The Hong Kong Center for Food Safety announced that while the amount is low, infants should refrain from consuming it.
Other test centers, like the Hong Kong Government’s Food and Environmental Health Department, found no traces of melamine in any of the samples.
Trying to fool health inspectors by adding a lethal chemical to a product consumed by infants is as Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao proclaimed, “heartless.”