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China's food safety chief resigns

A worker removes melamine-tainted milk powder from the shelves of a supermarket in Beijing. Twenty-two of the 109 milk food firms across China failed tests conducted by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) over the past week. All the melamine-tainted batches have been recalled and will be destroyed, acoording to the AQSIQ.

TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: The head of product safety in China resigned today. Hardly surprising. More than 50,000 Chinese babies have kidney problems from drinking tainted milk. The milk had a industrial chemical in it called melamine. And as you might recall, this isn't the first recall in China. Our Shanghai correspondent, Scott Tong, has more.


Scott Tong: China's top quality supervisor was Li Changjiang. Every product safety scandal has occurred on his watch from lead paint in toys to tainted pet food,and now toxic milk powder. Arthur Kroeber of Dragonomics consulting sees Li is the scapegoat for a government that wants to show it's on the case.

Arthur Kroeber: I suspect that what will happen is that we will now have a massive campaign to test all kinds of milk products, to impose draconian punishments on milk suppliers and that this particular problem will be addressed.

But Kroeber says fundamental flaws in the system remain. For one, it's impossible to check the tens of thousands of family farmers who supply much of the food chain. And that chain extends well beyond China. Certain Chinese milk products are now banned in Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Bangladesh and several other countries.

In Shanghai, I'm Scott Tong for Marketplace.

About the author

Scott Tong is a correspondent for Marketplace’s sustainability desk, with a focus on energy, environment, resources, climate, supply chain and the global economy.

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