Police have detained six more people in the country's contaminated milk scandal amid increasing efforts to restore public trust in domestic dairy products.
The suspects were caught in Hohhot in the country's main dairy-producing area of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region after allegedly selling and mixing the industrial chemical melamine into raw milk, the city government said in a notice on its website Monday.
The detentions were made during an investigation into melamine contamination at Yili and Mengniu, two top-selling dairy companies based in the region, the notice said.
Powdered and liquid milk from the two companies were earlier found tainted with melamine, a chemical often used in plastic but banned by the food industry.
Making milk products seem high in protein during quality tests, it can cause kidney problems if consumed.
Melamine has been blamed for killing four babies and sickening more than 50,000 others.
The latest move in Hohhot follows the detention last week of 22 people in Hebei province suspected of involvement in a network producing melamine and selling it on to milk farms and collecting stations.
No charges have been lodged yet. Meanwhile, the country is struggling to restore public confidence in domestic dairy products by intensifying quality checks.
More than 5,000 inspectors have been posted at the country's dairy factories for round-the-clock inspections, Wang Yong, the new director of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), said on Sunday.
"Every batch of products must receive testing before leaving the factory," he said. Wang's predecessor Li Changjiang resigned soon after the dairy contamination scandal broke out on Sept 11.
The AQSIQ also said on Sunday no melamine was found in the latest tests of milk produced after Sept 14.
It said no problems were detected with products from top-selling brands such as Yili, Mengniu and Bright Dairy, whose goods were found contaminated with melamine in previous checks.
Individuals who have doubts over the dairy products they consume could also access testing at authorized centers starting from Monday, the first working day after the week-long National Day holiday.
The AQSIQ announced 45 authorized testing centers across the country for melamine testing on Sunday.
Last Thursday, 388 centers received authorization, according to a notice on the AQSIQ website.
A receptionist at the testing center of the Chinese Academy of Inspection and Quarantine, one of the authorized centers in Beijing, told China Daily the center had already fielded some individual testing requests but would not give specific numbers.
The receptionist, surnamed Zhang, said fees for melamine testing range from 600 to 1,000 yuan ($88-146), with results available within 10 days.
She said the tests require a minimum of 200 g of powdered milk or two bags of liquid milk, preferably in unopened packages.