Page last updated at 16:03 GMT, Tuesday, 14 October 2008 17:03 UK

China orders milk product recall

Empty shelves in a supermarket in Najing
Even brands that have previously passed safety tests must be removed

China has ordered the withdrawal of all liquid and powdered milk made more than a month ago to help restore confidence after the tainted milk scandal.

The products could go on sale again if they passed quality tests and were labelled safe, Xinhua news agency said.

Four children died and thousands became ill after consuming milk contaminated with the toxic chemical, melamine.

The milk supplies are believed to have been deliberately tainted to give the appearance of a higher protein content.

It is the first time the Chinese government has issued a blanket recall of products since the tainted milk scandal emerged last month.

Safety tests

The order, approved by six government ministries and administrations, requires shops across China to take off the shelves all liquid and powdered milk produced before the 14 September, the day before a countrywide inspection of milk producing facilities was launched.

Even those brands that have previously passed the government's quality tests are not exempt.

Baby suffering from kidney stones
Contaminated milk has caused kidney problems in some infants

The milk products can be placed back on sale again once they pass new safety tests and are labelled as safe.

However, BBC China editor Shirong Chen says the order has so far not been strictly heeded and some stores are still selling dairy products without quality checks or new labels.

Milk tainted with melamine has so far caused kidney problems in thousands of Chinese children and sparked product recalls and bans both at home and abroad.

Some dairy suppliers have been arrested, accused of adding the industrial chemical to watered-down milk to fool quality control tests and make it appear rich in protein.

The government has also dismissed various local and national officials for negligence, and repeatedly promised to raise safety standards.

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