Chinese dairy execs jailed

March 3, 2010

, SHANGHAI, Mar 3 – A court in Shanghai sentenced three dairy executives to jail Wednesday for making and selling milk products tainted with melamine, blamed for the deaths of infants in a 2008 scandal, state media said.

The former deputy general manager of Shanghai Panda Dairy, a firm put on a black list during the scandal, was given five years prison and fined 400,000 yuan (59,000 dollars), the official Xinhua news agency said.

The ex-general manager of the company and another of his deputies were sentenced to four-and-a-half years and three years jail respectively, and fined a total of 500,000 yuan, the report added.

They were all found guilty of producing and selling toxic and hazardous food after Panda Dairy reused tainted condensed milk sent back to the firm by a client in 2008 after the melamine scandal erupted.

The industrial chemical had been added to milk products to make them appear higher in protein content, causing the deaths of at least six infants and sickening 300,000 others in China. The scandal led to huge recalls worldwide.

The court on Wednesday found that the three executives had decided to save money and pour the tainted dairy products back into condensed milk that was being made from scratch, the report said.

Both the court and the prosecutors were unavailable for comment.

The latest case came as milk powder tainted with melamine was found to have re-emerged throughout the country earlier this year, causing widespread concern.

A total of 21 people have been convicted for their roles in the 2008 scandal. Two of those were executed and Tian Wenhua, the former boss of Sanlu, the dairy firm at the heart of the scandal, was given life in prison.

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