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China’s Tainted-Milk Crisis Grows Despite Official Claims

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Maureen Fan
Washington Post
Sunday, Sept 28, 2008

BEIJING — Like thousands of other parents, Gu Yinghua took his child to the kidney unit of a local children’s hospital for free testing as China’s tainted-milk scandal continued to widen.

Another hospital had declared the 3-year-old boy healthy despite a steady diet of two brands of milk powder and two kinds of milk linked to a toxin that can cause kidney stones. But then his face began to swell.

The second hospital diagnosed kidney disease but not kidney stones, telling a disbelieving Gu to pay upfront for treatment that could last six months to two years. Gu and his wife, Xu Chongju, said they feel doubly cheated and are certain their son’s illness is connected to China’s latest food safety scare, which has outraged Chinese consumers, embarrassed the government and spurred food recalls in Europe and Asia.

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“Those milk powder manufacturers put a lot of money into TV commercials and brag how magical their products are. Of course we parents will think those powders are good for the baby’s health,” said Xu, who breast-fed her son for a year before turning to formula. “We feel deep regret about this, but what’s the use of regret? There is no regret medicine in the world.”

Despite official assurances that the problem is under control, the crisis appears to be spreading — to cake in Hong Kong, a popular brand of candy in Asia and Britain, ham and sausage products in Japan and even a zoo near Shanghai where baby animals were fed formula. More than a dozen countries have banned or recalled Chinese dairy products, and the European Union announced that it was banning all baby food from China containing even trace amounts of milk.

On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended that consumers avoid Mr. Brown instant coffee and White Rabbit candy, both made in China.

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This article was posted: Sunday, September 28, 2008 at 3:46 am

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