CHINA> National
4,000- milk collection stations closed
Updated: 2009-06-03 12:57

HOHHOT-- Close to four thousand milk collection stations in China have been shut down due to substandard conditions, Song Kungang, director-general of the China Dairy Industry Association, said on Wednesday.

In remarks at a dairy farmers union forum, Song said agriculture authorities inspected all of the country's 20,393 milk collection stations between November 2008 and April of this year.

Of those, 3,908 lacked testing equipment or were not sanitary and were therefore shut down.

Milk stations collect fresh milk from local farmers and sell it to dairy companies.

The remaining 16,485 stations still in operation are now subjected to rotating inspections by provincial and regional agriculture departments.

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"All the working milk stations have been under close supervision, " Song said while in Hohhot, capital of the northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Milk stations came under scrutiny last September when it was discovered owners and farmers were adding melamine to diluted milk to make it appear higher in protein. At least six Chinese infants died and almost 300,000 developed kidney problems and other symptoms as a result.

Song also added, China's dairy industry is also producing more milk.

"China's dairy industry has seen growth in the first quarter since last September when the melamine scandal broke," said Song.

Industrial output is up 5.53 percent in the Jan-March period compared to the first quarter in 2008.