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Seven arrested in China for melamine-tainted powdered milk

Police in China's Shanxi province in arrested seven individuals [JCRB report, in Chinese], including the executive of a dairy company, after that company's powdered milk was found to contain melamine, according to Monday reports. In 2008, melamine-tainted milk from China [JURIST news archive] was blamed for the deaths of six infants, and the Chinese government promised that all tainted product would be seized and destroyed. In the current case, the seven individuals are accused of adding melamine to 26 tons of out-of-date powdered milk [BBC report], which was distributed to Hunan and Henan provinces. If convicted, the seven individuals could face the death penalty, as China has recently indicated that it will impose harsh penalties [AP report], including capital punishment, in situations where food safety offenses are particularly egregious.

The problem of tainted Chinese milk is not subsiding, despite Chinese government promises to the contrary. In July, Chinese authorities discovered 64 tons of raw dairy materials [Xinhua report] contaminated with melamine in Qinghai province. In February, Chinese police arrested three individuals [JURIST report] for their roles in the 2008 tainted milk scandal. Two other individuals were executed [JURIST report] in November 2009 after being convicted of endangering public safety and selling toxic food.

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