China food safety

19 arrested for selling hundreds of tonnes of expired milk powder in China

Case in Shanghai is the latest food safety scandal to hit the dairy industry on the mainland

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 October, 2016, 11:05am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 October, 2016, 4:57pm

Nineteen people have been arrested in Shanghai for trying to sell nearly 300 tonnes of expired milk powder, according to the city’s food watchdog.

It is the latest food scandal in China concerning dairy products.

The suspects in Shanghai are accused of repackaging 276 tonnes of expired Fonterra milk powder produced in New Zealand into smaller packs to continue selling it and reduce their business losses, the Shanghai Municipal Food and Drug Administration said.

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The suspects were operating under a Shanghai-registered trading firm Jiang Di International Trade.

About 166.8 tonnes of the products were sold through wholesalers and online shops, the administration said on its website.

The authorities discovered the production line in Shanghai in March and seized the remaining milk powder and repackaging equipment.

The authorities have shut down the online shops and have been trying to trace the expired products that had entered the market, the announcement said.

The mainland authorities have vowed to combat food safety violations, especially those concerning dairy products.

At least six children died in 2008 after watered-down milk was deliberately contaminated with the chemical melamine to fool tests and make it look like the produce was still high in protein.

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In a food and drug safety campaign last year, mainland police cracked down on 26,000 separate incidents and arrested 37,000 suspects, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

The campaign, named “sharp sword”, has continued into 2016, and one of its focuses had been on incidents involving dairy products, according to the ministry

Meanwhile, the ministry said the rapid development of e-commerce had created new problems in monitoring food and drug safety.

In its efforts to regulate online food sales, Beijing enacted a regulation in October requiring e-commerce platforms to verify the licences of food sellers.

These platforms must stop the sellers from operating if their products are found to be tainted, according to the regulation.