Tonnes of toxic dairy products found in China

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The Independent Online

Chinese officials have found 76 tonnes of milk powder and dairy products laced with a deadly industrial chemical which were apparently left over from a milk scandal in 2008 that killed six babies and poisoned hundreds of thousands.

The discovery shows that toxic milk remains a danger despite a crackdown in which dozens of people were arrested and two, a farmer and a salesman, were executed for producing or selling toxic milk.

The recently seized melamine-tainted powder was probably produced in or before 2008 and stockpiled instead of destroyed. China ordered tens of thousands of tainted milk products burned or buried after more than 300,000 children were made sick and at least six died from the contamination. But the government did not carry out the destruction itself.

"It is crucial to account for the amount that was contaminated back in 2008 and make sure it is being destroyed or disposed of safely," said Dr Peter Ben Embarek, a World Health Organisation scientist based in Beijing. "As long as part of it is still not accounted for or destroyed properly we will unfortunately see these types of things happening again."

Tainted batches were also found earlier this year in Shanghai and the provinces of Shaanxi, Shandong, Liaoning and Hebei, prompting a 10-day emergency crackdown with inspection teams fanning out to 16 provinces.