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Last Updated: Monday, 8 November, 2004, 06:18 GMT
China blames 97 over milk scandal
Child victim of the baby milk scandal, shown on Chinese TV
Malnourishment left some infants' heads appearing large
China is to punish 97 government officials over the sale of fake milk powder that caused the deaths of at least 13 babies, state media says.

The officials are accused of "not discovering or fully investigating the problem," the China Daily quoted the Ministry of Supervision as saying.

Each person's precise role would be identified before they were punished, the newspaper reported.

The scandal broke out in the eastern Anhui province last April.

Two officials were jailed for more than two years in August, for failing to investigate or take necessary action after receiving a complaint about the milk from a parent whose child had died.

One shopkeeper was jailed for eight years for selling the substandard milk, which has almost no nutritional value.


Thirteen babies from Fuyang city in Anhui died after unknowing parents bought the milk powder from rural markets.

Nearly 200 infants suffered malnourishment, leading to a medical complication called "big head" disease by local residents.

Investigators uncovered more than 100 factories making bogus formula, consisting mostly of starch and water.

Some 54 producers of the milk powder were shut down.

Correspondents said the emerging picture was of corrupt officials conniving with unscrupulous factory owners to continue selling the bogus powder despite receiving complaints from parents of the infant victims.

The case highlighted China's woeful food safety standards, and triggered a stream of reports about other harmful foods, like fake soy sauce and vegetables pickled in industrial salt.

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