Page last updated at 14:19 GMT, Monday, 6 October 2008 15:19 UK

China sends inspectors to dairies

Chinese food safety officials check milk at a collection station in Chengdu, Sichuan province on 28/09/08
Inspectors will be checking milk production plants

China has deployed more than 5,000 food safety inspectors to check dairy factories in a bid to contain a continuing tainted milk scandal.

The government said it was part of immediate efforts to clean up the country's "chaotic" dairy industry.

Four babies have died and more than 53,000 fell ill from powdered milk tainted with the chemical melamine.

South Korea is the latest country to announce curbs on Chinese exports, after finding melamine in 10 products.

The country's food watchdog said the levels of melamine "do not pose a big health threat, but we'll take the necessary steps to ensure food safety".

10 Sept: 14 babies reported ill in Gansu province. Cases reported around China
13 Sept: Sanlu Group identified as source of contaminated powder milk. Production halted, 19 arrests
15 Sept: Beijing confirms two babies have died. Taiwan bans baby milk products
19 Sept: Death toll rises to four. Melamine found in ordinary milk from three well-known dairies.
22 Sept: Toll of ill babies rises to 53,000. Head of China's quality watchdog resigns. Twenty-two firms implicated in scandal.
23 Sept: Countries across Asia start to either test Chinese dairy products or pull them from shops
26 Sept: EU bans Chinese baby food with milk traces. Sales of popular sweet White Rabbit halted after tests detect melamine
29 Sept: Cadbury recalls products in Asia after tests find traces of melamine. Reports say 22 people arrested in Hebei province, suspected of introducing melamine into supply chain

Dozens of countries have pulled Chinese dairy products from their shelves since melamine was discovered in powdered baby milk.

Nearly 400 new illnesses linked to melamine-tainted milk were diagnosed in Beijing last week alone.

Some 30 people have been arrested.

New rules to ensure the safety of milk products were announced on Monday, following a meeting of the cabinet presided over by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

Lawless individuals and businesses were to blame for the scandal, the government said in a statement.

"At the same time, this has exposed chaos in our country's dairy product production and distribution and serious shortcomings in oversight and administration," the statement went on.

The government said it would ensure there were proper inspections and procedures at every step of the food chain process to ensure no such scandal was repeated.

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