China makes arrests after new contaminated milk scare

BEIJING _ Six people in China were arrested and 41 detained for distributing milk contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine, local media reported Saturday.

     Those arrested were found to be selling the contaminated milk despite a 2008 scandal during which six babies died and 300,000 children became ill after consuming melamine-tainted baby formula and other dairy products, the state run Xinhua news agency reported.

     Charges were laid against the bosses of the Dongyuan Dairy Factory in the northwestern province of Qinghai as well as the head of the Luyuan Dairy Co in the northeastern province of Hebei, the report said.

     Dai Wenming, chairman of the Luyuan Dairy Co., was suspected of having hidden 48 tons of milk powder tainted with melamine that he then sold to the Dongyuan factory.

     Melamine was used by some milk producers to artificially boost protein levels and raise profits.

     All contaminated milk products were supposed to be destroyed after the 2008 scandal.

     The contaminated milk from the Dongyuan factory was sold to many parts of China, including Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Zhejiang, Hunan, Henan, Liaoning and Shanghai, the semi-official China News Service reported.

     Government and food safety regulators had so far seized 124 tons of contaminated products, the report said.

     The arrests came less than a week after the Ministry of Health denied reports that excess levels of hormones in milk powder had caused premature sexual development in infants.