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Tainted Milk
Special> Tainted Milk
UPDATED: October 11, 2008 NO. 42 OCT. 16, 2008
Tainted Reputation
China's dairy market faces a challenge to recover following the milk powder scandal, despite efforts to ensure its safety

"Now we have just over 400 infants coming here for medical tests each day, a sharp decrease compared with the days immediately after the milk powder scandal, when more than 2,000 infants were tested every day," said Hou Xiaoju, Chief Director of the Information Center of the Beijing Children's Hospital.

Hou also revealed that 13 infants sick at the hospital, affected by tainted milk powder, are stable and will be released soon.

The situation at the Beijing Children's Hospital reflects that of hospitals across China. According to a report by Xinhua News Agency on October 7, during China's weeklong vacation for National Day, the number of infants registered for medical tests each day in the Chongqing Children's Hospital was between 300 and 500. Altogether 13,317 infants were tested from September 17 to October 6, with 240 showing positive for kidney stone tests and 46 being kept in hospital. On September 7, there were just nine infants left in hospital as a result of tainted milk powder.

"The climax of the medical tests after the scandal has already passed," said Zhao Xiaodong, Chief Director of Kidney Department of the Chongqing Children's Hospital.

Measures taken

On October 6, the State Council held an executive meeting to discuss an overhaul of the nation's dairy industry. It was the second conference on the issue since the tainted milk scandal broke in September. Premier Wen Jiabao presided over the meeting.

Noting that the tainted milk scandal was a major public health incident, the conference acknowledged the direct causes of it were illegal production, greed and disregard for people's lives. "It exposed chaos in China's dairy production and distribution and showed that supervision has been gravely absent," the State Council said in a statement.

The conference also stressed that every link of milk production, from farm to dinner table, should be strengthened to "restore the reputation of the nation's food industry, enhance consumer confidence and ensure public health."

Follow-up work, including the treatment of affected infants, providing financial aid to dairy farmers, and restoring normal order in the domestic dairy market, should also be tackled, according to the conference.

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