The Chinese authorities have been hurriedly inspecting factories across China since the Shijiazhuang-based Sanlu company, which supplies nearly a fifth of China's market with baby formula, was exposed just over a week ago knowingly selling tainted milk.
Twenty-two more Chinese companies have been discovered with melamine-tainted powdered milk products since the story broke, according to information from the China General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.
The contaminated milk has caused the death of three babies, more than 6000 infants have become ill, and more than 150 children have developed serious kidney problems, according to reports from officials.
Many famous domestic powdered and fresh milk producers are among the 23 companies, who were found selling melamine-contaminated products during the recent inspections.
To make matters worse, the Sanlu company had received complaints and concerns about the quality of its powdered milk back in March, but the poisonous milk was not recalled until September 11.
The tainted powdered milk is the latest in a line of contaminated products coming from apparently unethical Chinese producers.
January, 2008, Poisonous Dumplings in Japan
Frozen Chinese dumplings from Tianyang Food Processing Plant poisoned 10 people in Chiba and Hyogo in Japan at the end of January.
Japan’s National Police Agency and China’s Police Department launched investigations in to the poisonings, but both sides denied that the pesticide was mixed into the dumplings in their country. The truth of the incident remains unclear.
February, 2007, Lipsticks Containing Sudan Red
The China General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine found a carcinogenic dye, called Sudan red, in lipstick in February last year.
Sudan red is a yellowish-red colored lysochrome azo dye that can cause contact dermatitis.
Authorities suspect that some of the contaminated lipstick might have been exported to Hong Kong.
March, 2007, Poisonous Animal Food in United States
Up to 85000 cats and dogs in the US died in early 2007 after eating pet food contaminated by melamine.
The US Food and Drug Administration found that the deaths were caused by melamine in gluten products from China.
Chinese merchants had purposely mixed melamine in wheat bran to increase its nitrogen content. Later, melamine was also found in pig, chicken and fish food across the US.
May, 2007, Poisonous Toothpaste and Cough Syrup in Panama
US media widely reported at of end of April last year the deaths of about 365 people died in Panama after after taking cough syrup from China.
The cough syrup contained false glycerin, and in 100 of the cases autopsies revealed the poison as the cause of death.
On May 19, custom officials in Panama spot-checked Excel and Mr Cool toothpaste from China and found 6000 tubes of toothpaste containing poisonous diethylene glycol. A short time later, Australian customs officials and the FDA in the US also found poisonous toothpaste from China.
May, 2007, Poisonous Textiles
In May 2007, the Australia Wool Testing Authority found excessive formaldehyde in textiles from China.
The amount of formaldehyde in the textiles was 10 times the safety standard of most countries, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Actil Commercial, a division of a renowned home product company Sheridan Australia, who imported the tainted products, had to quarantine eight containers of wool blankets that had just come from China.
August, 2007, Poisonous Toys
According to China’s Central News Agency, Fisher-Price, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the famous Mattel Inc was collectively sued by parents for selling Chinese toys contaminated with lead.
Mattel had to recall tens of millions of toys and parents were left wondering how Chinese vendors could commit such a heartless crime.
November, 2006, Poisonous Eggs Containing “Sudan”
The carcinogenic industrial dye, Sudan red, was discovered in salted eggs in Hebei Province in November 2006. Investigations later also found the dye in fresh eggs in Hubei Province.
China’s Southern Metropolis Daily listed other major food-safety scares in November 2006 which included:
“Big-head baby” powered milk was found in 2003 through until April 2004 in Fuyang City in Anhui Province. More than 100 infants were ill with enlarged heads after consuming poor-quality powdered milk. Some infants died.
Guanghai salt fish, a product special to Taishan City, was contaminated with a pesticide called dichlorovinyl dimethyl phosphate, or DDVP in 2004. This pesticide is known for its acute toxicity.
In March 2004, workers and their families at a brickyard in Jiaxing City in Zhejiang Province were poisoned after eating pork marinated in table salt. Many people vomited and fainted after eating the meat. A three-year-old girl died and 57 people were sent to hospital.