Fri, Sep 19, 2008 - Page 2 News List

TSU assembles legal team to aid tainted milk victims

DAIRY DILEMMA The party said the health department failed to do its job and demanded that the government lodge a protest with China under the WTO framework

By Loa Iok-Sin  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH CNA

Taiwan Solidarity Union Chairman Huang Kun-huei announces at the party’s Taipei headquarters yesterday that a legal team will assist victims of melamine-contaminated milk powder in seeking compensation. 

PHOTO: CNA

The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) has assembled a seven-member panel of attorneys to assist victims of melamine-contaminated milk powder in seeking compensation from the Chinese manufacturer and Taiwanese importer of the product, the party said yesterday.

The TSU encouraged businesses that had bought tainted milk powder from the China-based Sanlu Group, as well as individuals who had consumed the milk products, to register with the party, TSU Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) told a press conference.

Huang also demanded that the government lodge a protest with China under the framework of the WTO.

“We will also file an application for national compensation — the toxic milk powder was imported without a legal hitch, which means that the Department of Health failed to do its job to monitor the safety of food imports,” TSU spokeswoman Chow Mei-li (周美里) said.

Last week, Chinese authorities informed Taiwan that a shipment of Sanlu-brand milk powder imported in June was contaminated with melamine. The 25 tonnes of toxic milk powder produced by the Sanlu Group was imported into Taiwan on June 23 by the Taiwan branch of the New Zealand-based dairy ingredient supplier Fonterra.

Over the past few days, local health authorities have seized 395 bags of unsold milk powder and around 140 bags that were sold to various food dealers but had not been used, a health department investigation showed.

While around 160 bags of the milk powder have been used by bakeries and beverage makers, the authorities are still trying to locate approximately 300 more bags.

Chou said the party would try to work with lawyers in China to determine whether victims on both sides of the Taiwan Strait may file a joint lawsuit.

“If you’re a victim, you can contact us at (02) 2394-1270 and we will find out how we can help,” she said, adding that the legal service would be provided pro bono.

Melamine, a chemical used to make plastics and fertilizers, is believed to have been added to diluted milk by some Chinese producers or resellers to raise the apparent protein content.

In addition to the Sanlu milk powder, baby formula produced by 21 Chinese dairy companies has been contaminated by melamine. However, Taiwan has not imported products from any of these 21 companies, officials said.

Also See: Fourth milk death reported in China and See: Milk scare becomes another power play

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