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Page last updated at 12:35 GMT, Thursday, 18 September 2008 13:35 UK

Hong Kong recalls dairy products

A child receives treatment after drinking tainted baby milk in Hefei, eastern China, on 18 September
Thousands of Chinese infants are being treated for suspected poisoning

Hong Kong has recalled dairy products made by a company implicated in the contaminated milk scandal that has caused four deaths in China.

The Chinese territory recalled the Yili dairy's products after tests found milk, ice-cream and yogurt contaminated with the chemical melamine.

Three infants are among those who died and thousands of others are ill after being fed tainted baby milk.

Chinese police have arrested 18 people in connection with the scandal.

A fourth person has died but officials in the north-western province of Xinjiang did not specify if it was another baby.

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Suppliers are believed to have added melamine, a banned chemical normally used in plastics, to diluted milk to make it appear higher in protein.

The additive is blamed for causing severe renal problems and kidney stones.

Melamine was first found in baby milk powder made by the Sanlu Group. In total, melamine has been found in products made by 22 companies, including Yili.

Food alert

Hong Kong ordered the recall after discovering contamination in eight out of 30 dairy products made by the Yili Industrial Group Co.

"I call on the public not to consume any products of this brand," said Constance Chan, controller for the territory's Food Safety Centre.

She added that the government had asked Yili to stop supplying products to Hong Kong.

A young child undergoes treatment at a hospital in Hefei, China

At the moment it is not suggested that anyone in Hong Kong has been made ill by eating contaminated dairy products, the BBC's James Reynolds reports.

But the recall will heighten concern in all parts of China that the tainted food scandal is not yet over, our correspondent adds.

Twelve people were arrested in the province of Hebei on Thursday on suspicion of being involved in the supply of tainted milk.

Hebei is home to the headquarters of the Sanlu Group, the main dairy company affected by the scandal.

The State Council - China's cabinet - has held a meeting to discuss the issue.

China's official news agency Xinhua says that the council has decided to reform the dairy industry.

It says that the tainted milk powder incident "reflected chaotic industry conditions, as well as loopholes in the supervision and management of the industry".

History of crises

In Beijing, parents have been taking their children to hospitals to be tested for kidney stones.

One mother told the BBC she was angry with both the milk producers and with what she called the useless quality inspection departments.

China's ability to police its food production industries has long been under question.

Health scares and fatalities in recent years have ranged from the contamination of seafood to toothpaste and, last year, to pet food exported to the US.

Thousands of inspectors are checking milk production plants and selling stations across the country.

Tests have shown that 69 batches of formula from 22 companies contained the banned substance.

Two of the companies involved have exported their products to Bangladesh, Yemen, Gabon, Burundi, and Burma, although it is not clear if contaminated batches are involved.


SEE ALSO
China arrests 12 in milk scandal
18 Sep 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Chinese to tighten dairy testing
17 Sep 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Chinese baby milk toll escalates
17 Sep 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Anger over China milk scandal
17 Sep 08 |  Have Your Say

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