China has reported the death of a second infant from contaminated milk powder after a scandal that has affected more than a thousand children. It has now emerged the first victim, aged five months, died in May while the other, an eight month old girl, died in July.
The product is now being recalled, but only after the New Zealand government raised the alarm. The head of China’s quality control unit said whomever is reponsible needs to be severely punished.
He also announced that the Ministry of Agriculture has launched a nationwide inspection of the dairy sector.
The latest death blamed on infant milk powder made by the Sanlu Group was in Gansu province, a poor northwestern region where the first infant fatality linked to the chemical-laced milk was also reported.
Now there have been additional reports of hundreds of children falling ill in at least two other regions, Hebei in the north and Jiangsu in the east.
Milk powder producer Sanlu, which is part owned by New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra, last week halted production after investigators found the chemical compound melamine in its powder was causing kidney stones and complications in infants.
China is the world’s second biggest market for baby milk powder and the health scare and public outcry may yet grow.