China milk scandal companies offer to compensate victims 2008-12-27 15:48:52   Print

    BEIJING, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- Victims who fell ill or died after drinking tainted baby formula will soon get financial compensation from 22 Chinese dairy producers, China's Dairy Industry Association announced here Saturday.

    "The enterprises offered to shoulder the compensation liability. By doing so, they hope to earn understanding and forgiveness of the families of the sickened children," the association said.

    Victims will get a one-time cash payment, the association said, without going in to specific numbers.

    "The money for compensation is in place now and will soon be handed to the people who have custody of the sickened children through various channels," the association said.

    No specific date was given.

    In all, 22 dairy producers, including the Shijiazhuang-based Sanlu Group, sold products tainted with an industrious chemical known as melamine. It is used in the manufacturing of plastics. When added to milk it appears to increase protein levels.

    The association said in order to be fully responsible for the babies, the 22 enterprises also raised money to cover medical bills for any possible after-effects as a result of the poisoning. Again, no specific amount was given.

    "If the babies suffer from relative after-effects, all medical fee will be covered by the fund," the association said.

    The Ministry of Health said it was likely melamine contamination killed six babies. Another 294,000 infants suffered from urinary problems such as kidney stones.

    China's tainted dairy scandal was exposed in September after babies who were fed milk powder, produced by the Hebei Province-based Sanlu Group, developed kidney stones.

    The scandal led to the resignation of China's chief quality supervisor Li Changjiang. Several officials were sacked, arrests were made and the government is working on overhauling the country's dairy industry.

    As of Nov. 27, a total of 861 babies were still in the hospital, according to the Ministry of Health. Xinhua asked for updated numbers but was told they will be released at a regular press conference, usually held on the tenth of every month.

    The Sanlu Group, epicenter of the scandal, stopped production on Sept. 12. A bankruptcy petition for Sanlu has been filed as it faces 1.1 billion yuan of debt, the Shijiazhuang city government said Thursday.

Editor: An
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