Sat, Apr 09, 2011 - Page 5 News List

Three killed and 34 ill in latest China milk scare

THE ART OF TAINTING:The victims this time were found to have suffered poisoning not from melamine, but from nitrite, a chemical used to make dyes and preserve meats

AFP, BEIJING

Three people died and 34 were left ill in northwestern China from food poisoning believed linked to tainted milk, the government said, in the country’s latest food safety scare.

A preliminary investigation showed victims in the city of Pingliang suffered nitrite poisoning after drinking milk, a local government statement said.

Nitrite is a chemical used to make dyes and to preserve meats.

Two suspect dairy farms have been shut down and are being investigated, the statement issued on Thursday said. Pingliang is in Gansu Province.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, -nitrite poisoning can result in nausea, dizziness, respiratory distress, loss of consciousness and seizures.

Such safety incidents are routine for China’s notoriously scandal-prone food industries, with the dairy sector a particular area of concern.

The dairy industry was rocked in 2008 when at least six babies died and 300,000 became ill from milk tainted with the industrial chemical melamine.

Melamine had been added to the milk to give the appearance of higher protein levels.

In July last year, authorities announced they had found 25,000 tonnes of tainted milk powder earlier in 2009.

Last month, the country’s largest meat processor was forced to apologies when clenbuterol was found in some of its pork products. The illegal additive can lead to dizziness, heart palpitations and profuse sweating.

Other recent scandals have involved contaminated red wine, bleached mushrooms, fake tofu and recycled cooking oil.

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