The Chinese dairy companies blamed for selling contaminated milk that killed six children and sickened nearly 300,000 others last year have agreed to pay $160 million in compensation to the victims and their families. A spokeswoman for the China Dairy Industry Association reports that a fund was established for the victims and that the payments would be made. China’s state-controlled media reported that a group of 22 dairy companies would make one-time payments to the families of the victims. The settlement would amount to about $550 per victim, which is the equivalent of about three months of wages for the typical factory worker in southern China.
The association has also agreed to make payments to care for victims who suffer from long-term effects from the poisonings, according to Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency. Several lawsuits have been filed by families of the victims, but thus far none of them have been accepted by Chinese courts. Because of all the adverse publicity worldwide, China’s top leaders have vowed to improve their country’s food safety.
As we all know, some of China’s largest dairy producers were accused last September by the government of selling milk contaminated with melamine, an industrial chemical that is believed to cause kidney stones and other ailments. In recent days, more than a dozen dairy middlemen have been charged with endangering public security in the northern province of Hebei and put on trial. They have been accused of intentionally contaminating dairy products in order to reap bigger profits. Because melamine is high in nitrogen, experts say, it can be used to artificially inflate protein readings on milk powder. In fact, some dairy producers and middlemen have admitted to using melamine as a cheap substitute for real milk powder.
It’s interesting to note that Chinese authorities have arrested 60 people in connection with the country’s tainted milk scandal that killed six infants and sickened nearly 300,000 more. The arrests were made over the past several months, but few of the names or dates were provided. Some have already been tried in court. Twenty-one went on trial between December 26th and 31st, including four executives of Sanlu Group. The court hasn’t announced verdicts in those cases.
Tian Wenhua, former board chairwoman and general manager of Sanlu, pleaded guilty on December 31st for her role in the scandal. She and three other executives are on trial for producing and selling fake or substandard products. They were arrested in late September. From early August to mid-September, Sanlu Group produced 904 metric tons of melamine-tainted baby formula powder and sold 813 metric tons of tainted products made with contaminated milk.
Source: New York Times
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