Nearly 100 people have been arrested in China for allegedly producing and selling illegal melamine-tainted dairy products, according to official Chinese media.

chinaarrests-featured.jpgOf the 96 people detained in connection with melamine adulteration, 17 have been convicted, including two people who were sentenced to life in prison. Thirty-eight people are awaiting trail and 41 remain in custody and are under investigation, according to a recent statement by the State Council’s Food Safety Commission.

The adulterated dairy–believed to be left over from the country’s 2008 scandal that sickened 300,000 and killed at least 6–was discovered during a series of food safety raids.

The latest raid turned up 2,132 tons of melamine-tainted milk powder. Chinese authorities have seized over 25,000 tons of melamine dairy since the high-profile scandal grabbed international headlines in 2008.

Melamine is an industrial chemical that can be used for artificially boosting protein content in dairy quality tests. The chemical is usually used to manufacture plastic and when ingested can cause kidney failure and kidney stones.

The announcement on melamine-related arrests by the State Council’s Food Safety Commission comes just a few days before Chinese President Hu Jintao is set to visit Washington, D.C. to meet with President Obama to discuss a number of issues critical to the U.S.-China relationship. 

  • Lou Alfano

    It is my understanding that melamine does not actually “artificially boost… protein content,” but reacts in dairy quality tests in such a manner as to have the test indicate that there is more protein in the dairy product than is actually the case. The problem is that melamine “fools the test,” and the solution should be to devise a new test that differentiates between protein and melamine.

  • Ann Quinn, consumer

    For an explanation of crude protein testing versus true protein
    testing, see Wikipedia:
    Such tests to differentiate crude protein (possibly contaminated) from true protein content already exist and
    are simply not used. Consumers have to wonder why as such
    food safety tests may prevent pet food recalls like 2007 and/
    or infant formula deaths which occured in China in 2008.