Page last updated at 09:47 GMT, Monday, 25 January 2010

Timeline: China milk scandal

Dangerously high levels of the industrial chemical melamine in powdered baby milk and other dairy products in China sparked worldwide safety concerns. The BBC looks at how the saga unfolded.

Chinese workers destroy boxes of contaminated milk, Wuhan, 5 Nov
Many Chinese milk products have been pulled from the shelves

10 Sept: China reveals that 14 babies fell ill in Gansu province over the previous two months. All drank the same brand of milk powder. Cases start being reported around China.

12 Sept 2008: Sanlu Group admits that its milk powder was contaminated with the toxic chemical melamine.

13 Sept: Production halts at Sanlu Group. Nineteen people are arrested.

15 Sept: Beijing confirms two babies have died. Vice-president of the Sanlu Group apologises to the public.

19 Sept: Melamine is found in ordinary milk from three well-known dairies. One of the firms involved - Mengniu dairy - recalls all its products.

22 Sept: Toll of ill babies rises to 53,000, and the death toll to at least four. The head of China's quality watchdog resigns, becoming the first national leader to step down because of the scandal.

23 Sept: Countries across Asia start either to test Chinese dairy products or to pull them from shops.

26 Sept: The EU bans Chinese baby food with milk traces. Sales of the popular sweet White Rabbit are halted after tests detect melamine.

Mother and child in Chengdu, Sichuan province - December 2008
The tainted milk scandal caused widespread public outrage

29 Sept: Cadbury recalls products in Asia after tests find traces of melamine. Reports say 22 people have been arrested in Hebei province, suspected of introducing melamine into the supply chain.

15 Oct: Nearly 6,000 infants remain in hospital across China suffering kidney diseases. Six are in a serious condition.

21 Oct: About 1,500 raccoon dogs bred for their fur on a farm in China die of kidney failure after eating feed tainted with melamine.

23 Oct: Six more people are arrested in connection with the tainted milk scandal.

26 Oct: Hong Kong authorities discover eggs produced by Dalian Hanwei Group contain melamine. They are pulled off the shelves.

30 Oct: Two more egg brands from Shanxi and Hubei provinces are found to contain melamine.

31 Oct: State media admit that melamine is probably being routinely added to Chinese animal feed.

2 Nov: A Chinese official insists the egg scandal is an individual case and clamps down on illegal producers of feed.

14 Nov: The US issues a nationwide "import alert" for Chinese-made food products.

18 Nov: The Chinese government allows the US to station officials in three cities to help ensure the safety of Chinese exports.

23 Dec: Sanlu files for bankruptcy.

26 Dec: Six men become the first to go on trial in China in connection with the scandal. They are accused of making and selling melamine.

27 Dec: Dairy firms involved in the scandal are to compensate the nearly 300,000 people affected, according to state media.

31 Dec: The trial of four Sanlu company executives begins.

2 Jan 2009: 22 companies involved in the scandal apologise and ask for forgiveness in a New Year text message sent to millions of mobile phone users.

8 Jan: The death of a two-month-old boy after he consumed baby milk powder produced under new guidelines is investigated.

9 Jan: China says it has arrested 60 people in connection with the melamine scandal.

11 Jan: China says a total of 296,000 children had fallen ill from consuming milk products tainted with melamine.

16 Jan: Parents of first baby who died accept a 200,000-yuan ($29,000; £21,000) pay-out from Sanlu milk company.

19 Jan: Reports reveal that 213 families whose children were made ill or died from tainted milk have petitioned the Supreme Court, demanding higher levels of compensation.

21 and 22 Jan: Sentences are handed out to 21 people in total, including Sanlu executives and milk producers and traders following their trials in Hebei province, where Sanlu was based. They range from two death sentences to long jail terms.

26 March: The Hebei Provincial Higher People's Court upholds the sentences after appeals, including the death sentences.

24 November: Zhang Yujun and Geng Jinping are executed. They were convicted of producing and selling hundreds of tonnes of melamine-laced milk and milk powder.

6 Jan 2010: Prosecutors in Shanghai say three dairy executives are to go on trial for new cases of allegedly selling milk tainted with melamine.

25 Jan: Melamine-tainted milk products are pulled from the shelves of supermarkets in Guizhou province.

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