BEIJING – The parents of a baby allegedly sickened by tainted infant formula are suing the dairy at the heart of China's contaminated milk scandal, state media reported, as 15 more companies were accused Wednesday of producing spiked products.
From the time of birth, the 1-year-old in central China's Henan province was fed infant formula made by Sanlu Group Co., according to a report by Caijing, a leading Chinese business magazine.
The report says the case is believed to be the first civil lawsuit filed in response to the melamine contamination of liquid milk, yogurt and other products made with milk. Four infants have died and some 54,000 have become ill after drinking the contaminated formula, which has been linked to kidney stones.
One of the child's parents, surnamed Sun, filed a lawsuit in a court in Zhenping county seeking $22,000 in compensation from Sanlu for medical, travel and other expenses incurred after the child developed kidney stones, the magazine said in a recent report. The report did not give the full name of the child or parents.
China's government, meanwhile, named 15 more Chinese dairy companies for producing products contaminated with melamine after a new series of tests. The contaminated samples were mostly milk powder products for adults.
Thirty-one samples of Chinese milk powder provided by 20 companies were found tainted with melamine after new testing, according to data seen Wednesday on China's food safety administration's Web site. It was a national holiday in China and product safety officials could not be reached for comment.
More than 13,000 children have been hospitalized and 27 people arrested in connection with the contamination. The scandal was worsened by an apparent cover-up by companies involved and the ignoring by safety officials of tips and warnings from parents and doctors. Top Sanlu executives and government officials in the northern city of Shijiazhuang, where the company is based, have been forced to resign.
Melamine, which is high in nitrogen, is used to make plastics and fertilizers and experts say some amount of the chemical may be transferred from the environment during food processing.
But in China's case, suppliers trying to boost output are believed to have diluted their milk, adding melamine because its nitrogen content can fool tests aimed at verifying protein content.
Levels of melamine discovered in batches tested varied widely, from as much as 6,196 milligrams per kilogram to as little 1.3 milligrams per kilogram. Chinese health officials have said no harm comes from consuming less than 0.63 milligrams per kilogram.
In the most recent tests, nine of the batches containing melamine were produced by the company at the center of the scandal, Sanlu, a 43 percent stake of which is owned by New Zealand dairy cooperative Fonterra. No date for the testing was given.