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Chinese dairy exports in decline

By Chris Hogg
BBC News, Shanghai

Chemist
The crisis has been an indictment of China's food safety regime
China's dairy exports have all but ground to a halt following the scandal earlier this year when milk was tainted with the industrial chemical melamine.

Data reported in the country's state media suggests that dairy exports fell 92% year-on-year in October.

Meanwhile China's Ministry of Health has revised the number of infants who died after drinking tainted products.

It now says as many as six infants died and up to 294,000 suffered from urinary tract ailments including kidney stones.

That figure is a lot higher than had previously been reported.

More than 850 children are still being treated in hospital; at least 150 of them are said to be seriously ill.

US alert

In the first part of this year, an average of 12,000 tonnes of dairy products were exported each month.

Li Xiaoquan (right) holds up a photo of his twin daughters at his home near Runan in Henan province. One of them died from kidney failure (19 October 2008)
Hundreds of children are still in hospital for related illnesses
In October, after the scandal broke, that fell to just over 1,000 tonnes.

Last month the Food and Drug Administration in the United States imposed an import alert which made it hard for Chinese firms to export their products to the US.

The businesses involved are hoping that a meeting between Chinese leaders and the US treasury secretary in Beijing on Thursday, part of a regular economic dialogue, will produce an easing of restrictions imposed on them.

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