Tainted products: major scares involving China

BEIJING, Jan 22, 2009 (AFP) - The reputation of products made in China has been tarnished repeatedly in recent years as Chinese consumer goods and food have been recalled around the world after being found to be unsafe.

Here is a list of the key cases and some of the Chinese government's responses:


Photo : Robert Saiget/AFP

- 2006-2007: The cancer-causing red dye Sudan IV is found in a series of products in China ranging from cosmetics to poultry and chilli powder, despite being banned in the country.

- March 2007: Pet food in North America and elsewhere around the world is recalled after animals start dying in large numbers. The tainted ingredients turn out to be wheat and rice derivatives from China, to which the chemical melamine -- normally used to make plastic -- had been added to give the appearance of higher protein content.

- June 2007: Countries in several parts of the world recall Chinese-made toothpaste found to contain a chemical used in antifreeze for vehicles. China bans it after reports that dozens may have died in Latin America from ingesting it as an ingredient in medicine.

- June 2007: Importers of Chinese toys to the United States issue recalls after some are found to be coated with toxic lead paint. Similar products are later banned in several countries.

- June 2007: The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recalls 450,000 tyres made by Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co. The company denies that its tyres are defective.

- August 2007: Mattel recalls over 18 million Chinese-made toys over design faults and because some were coated with lead paint, although the US toy company takes responsibility for most of the problems and apologises.

- January 2008: At least 10 consumers in Japan fall ill after eating Chinese-made dumplings, causing a major scare. Chinese officials deny that the contamination originated in their country.

- September 2008: Countries around the world recall or ban Chinese dairy products after melamine is found in milk. At least six infants die and nearly 300,000 fall ill.

- October 2008: The tainted milk scandal widens when melamine is found in eggs from a Chinese company, which leads to confirmation the chemical had been added to animal feed.

- December 2008: China bans the use of 17 substances as food additives -- some commonly used as disinfectants or insecticides -- as part of a four-month safety campaign launched following the tainted milk scandal.

- January 2009: A court sentences two men to death for making and selling tainted milk and hands a life sentence in jail to Tian Wenhua, the former boss of Sanlu -- the biggest producer to sell tainted dairy products.

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