Death penalty for Chinese milk tainters

Scott Tong Jan 22, 2009
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Death penalty for Chinese milk tainters

Scott Tong Jan 22, 2009
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Scott Jagow: China’s had a few problems lately with consumer products. But nothing prompted more outrage than the tainted milk scandal. Six children died, and almost 300,000 other people got sick. The milk had an additive that was meant to be used in plastics and fertilizer. It made the milk appear to have higher protein levels.

So what’s the punishment for doing something like that? Today, a Chinese court sentenced two men to death. And the woman who ran the dairy company blamed in the scandal got life in prison. We have more from our correspondent Scott Tong in Shanghai.


Scott Tong: One of the men sentenced to die was found guilty of running the workshop that made the deadly additive melamine. The other was convicted of producing and selling the melamine to milk-makers.

Despite the sentences, many Chinese bloggers and commentators consider the men scapegoats for government officials believed to have covered up the scandal for months.

Beijing attorney Lester Ross says the broader victim is China Inc, and the vast array of American and foreign investors associated with it.

Lester Ross: Because of problems like this, the taint of poor product quality and the suspicion that problems are sort of swept under the rug taints other companies that are perfectly legitimate. There is a bad aura that may attach to being Made in China.

Food experts say the death sentences may deter some cheaters, but they won’t fix fundamental issues in China’s food supply chain. And increasingly, items in that chain are turning up in American supermarkets.

In Shanghai, I’m Scott Tong for Marketplace.

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