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Emergency response begins over milk powder incident
BEIJING -- China's State Council, the Cabinet, has started the first-class national food safety emergency response to deal with the tainted Sanlu milk powder incident that has caused kidney stones in at least 432 babies.|
The State Council has set up a national leading group comprising officials from the Health Ministry, the quality watchdog and local governments for the incident.
A preliminary investigation has confirmed the Sanlu baby milk powder contaminated by melamine was the cause of kidney stones in infants, said an official statement released here Saturday evening.
The melamine substance found in some of the Sanlu products was deliberately added to increase the protein percentage in raw milk or milk powder, it said.
The statement said the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council attached high importance to the issue, urging all-out efforts in treating the affected babies. The patients will be given free medical treatment and the cost will be shouldered by the government.
Meanwhile, the State Council urged a thorough overhaul of the milk powder market, directing the Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) to join other departments to check all the brands of baby formulas circulating in the market, and immediately pull those disqualified products off shelves.
The reason why the Sanlu baby formula was contaminated must be found out as soon as possible, the State Council said, directing the local government and relevant departments to overhaul all the links including the milk powder production, cow raising, raw milk collection and dairy processing.
Based on the findings, the criminals and all those responsible would be severely punished, it said.
Relevant local government and departments should draw lessons from the incident and improve the food safety and quality supervision mechanism to ensure the food safety of the public, it added.
The State Council has directed the provincial government of Hebei, where the Sanlu group is based, to halt production of the group. An investigation team set up by the health ministry and other departments is also in the province to probe into the cause, and the quality watchdog AQSIQ is conducting an all-round overhaul of baby milk powder producers across the country.