The Chinese official in charge of ensuring that the country’s food supply is safe has stepped down as the number of children affected by milk contamination grows. So far, contaminated milk has made 53,000 children ill. Four children have died and about 13,000 are currently in hospitalized.
The problem was identified two weeks ago when milk powder from the Sanlu Group was found to contain melamine, an industrial chemical. Officials believe suppliers added melamine, a banned chemical used in plastics, to watered-down milk to make it appear higher in protein. Since then milk products from 22 other companies have been pulled from the shelves in China. Besides powered milk, officials found ice cream and yogurt that also contained the chemical.
China’s leader, Wen Jiabo, says he feels extremely guilty about the contamination: "What we are doing now is to ensure that nothing like this will ever happen again, and we are not only talking about milk. We will never let the same situation repeat with any kind of product."