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Baby formula pulled off shelves after problems exposed

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-03-29 09:40

SHANGHAI -- Food safety authorities in Shanghai said Thursday 28 stores and 15 supermarkets have been ordered to stop selling baby formula products under a foreign brand name after media exposure of safety problems.

About 1,300 kg of baby formula products trademarked by Hero Nutradefense had been pulled off shelves by Thursday afternoon, the Shanghai Food Safety Office said in a statement.

The agency said it has launched an investigation into the Shanghai branch of the Xile Li'er Import and Export Co in Suzhou of east China's Jiangsu province. The branch has claimed that all its Nutradefense-label baby formula was imported from the Netherlands.

Mou Jun, who heads the Xile Li'er Import and Export Co, has been detained by police, according to a Thursday night press briefing organized by the administrative committee of the Suzhou Industrial Park, where the company is located.

The company, though an authorized dealer of Hero's Nutradefense, is also suspected of smuggling baby formula powder made only for the European market, according to the briefing.

Mou was accused of buying baby formula powder manufactured by the Hero Group, a major Swiss baby formula maker, for the European market from south China and repackaged it as Nutradefense-label baby formula, for which he had a legal import certificate, according to the briefing.

China Central Television (CCTV), a state broadcaster, reported Thursday that the Suzhou company allegedly mixed expired milk powder into Nutradefense products, changed production and expiration dates and repackaged them.

The consumer quality watchdog in Suzhou closed down Xile Li'er's production line in November 2012, as the company did not have a license for food production, the report said.

Despite the closure, its milk powder products were still on sale in many cities this month.

Many stores on Taobao and Tmall, two major online shopping sites, have also stopped selling the Nutradefense-label baby formula products in the wake of the CCTV report.

Many Chinese parents prefer imported baby formula products, or foreign brands, following a milk powder scare in 2008.

In the 2008 Sanlu scandal, unscrupulous Chinese milk producers were found to have mixed melamine with their dairy products in order to falsify protein content tests. The practice caused the deaths of at least six Chinese babies and left another 300,000 infants ill.

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