By Tini Tran BEIJING — China’s State Council issued new regulations to tighten quality control of the dairy industry in the wake of the tainted milk crisis, state media said Friday, as a second lawsuit was filed by parents of a sickened baby.
Contaminated milk powder, laced with the chemical melamine, has been blamed for causing the deaths of four infants and sickening more than 54,000 others. More than 10,000 children remained hospitalized, according to the Health Ministry.
Effective immediately, the regulations tighten control over the breeding of cows, the purchasing of raw milk and the production and sale of dairy products, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
The measures promise more severe punishment for people who violate safety standards and quality control departments that fail to fulfill duties, it said.
Milk collection stations will now need approval from local authorities to operate, and dairy suppliers who violate standards will be blacklisted and named publicly, it said.
The wave of new measures is part of China’s attempt to establish monitoring and supervision over its dairy industry, where a largely unregulated supply chain has flourished.
Police in northern Hebei province arrested a suspect Friday who they said had produced a large amount of protein powder that contained melamine, Xinhua said. They caught also caught others who bought the powder, including cattle farm owners and milk purchasers, it said.
Police have so far arrested 36 people in connection with the scandal in Hebei, Xinhua said, the province containing the headquarters of Sanlu Group Co., the dairy at the center of the crisis.
The news came as Zhang Xiuwen, a migrant worker from southern Guangdong province, filed a legal claim after his 11-month-old son was diagnosed with kidney stones, his lawyer Chen Beiyuan said Friday. The baby had been fed formula produced by Sanlu Group since his birth.