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Fake milk powder severely sickens infant
By Liu Weifeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-04-15 06:15

Authorities have discovered another child dangerously ill and suffering from the so-called "big-head" syndrome, a result of yet another fake milk powder scandal in Zhuzhou in Central China's Hunan Province.

Qi Yongming, father of the victim, sent his 6-month-old baby girl to Zhuzhou Women and Children Healthcare Centre last week after she continuously cried for the past month.

He said the girl was losing her hair and had no energy gradually recently, the father was cited as saying by a China Central Television report.

The baby weighs no more than 5 kilograms, and its tiny legs and arms do not match the size of its enlarged head, which doctors attribute to the sub-standard milk powder she was fed.

"The baby is suffering from severe malnutrition due to wrong nutrition," said Liao Jiren, a doctor with the hospital.

A milk powder sample was tested. It contained 1.74 per cent protein and 12.8 per cent of fat per unit, far less than the national standard of 12 to 18 per cent protein and 20 per cent of the fat, the Zhuzhou Centre for Disease Control said.

The infant ate about 20 bags of the "Zhengmeng" brand milk powder since last December and began to show symptoms of malnutrition and stunted growth soon afterward.

An all-round, anti-fake food campaign is being conducted across Hunan Province by related health supervision, industrial and commercial departments and the public security authorities.

He Xuehui, the merchant who sold the fake milk powder is being questioned by local public security officers.

He has told authorities he secretly purchased some five boxes of the milk powder each with 20 bags from a vendor in the Gaoqiao Market in the capital city Changsha. And Gaoqiao is the largest food wholesale market in the province.

However, the original supplier in Gaoqiao has disappeared and is being sought by authorities, said Guo Jun'an, deputy director of the Healthcare Supervision Institute under the Zhuzhou Health Bureau.

"The wholesale dealer in Gaoqiao has a record of being warned not to sell fake milk powder during last year's nationwide anti-fake campaign," said Guo.

According to He's business records, he purchased the powder of "Zhengmeng" for the first time last March, then suspended the sale of the item. The brand re-emerged on the shelves of He's store last December, said Wang Guohe, a source at the supervision institute.

Qi bought the product costing 16 yuan (US$1.9) for per bag for the first two times, then was given a discount for a five bag purchase, spending 12 yuan (US$1.5) per bag.

He admitted he bought each box of the counterfeit powder using only 110 yuan (US$13.4) from the dealer in Gaoqiao.

"Further investigations proved that 'Zhengmeng' is a product made in Taishun, a county under Wenzhou in East China's Zhejiang Province," Guo said.

"The fake milk powder producer was ordered to stop production last year and a ban seal is still on the product," Guo added.

The fake product on the market is presumed to be from the stock of last year or a new product from another secret manufacturer, insiders said.

Further medical checks on the baby are being conducted, which will serve as key evidence to sue the product dealers, Zheng Xingang with the Zhuzhou Health Bureau said yesterday.

(China Daily 04/15/2005 page2)

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