China arrests six over fake Similac infant formula

The gang sold more than 17,000 cans of fake milk powder, earning nearly 2 million yuan (S$419,524).
The gang sold more than 17,000 cans of fake milk powder, earning nearly 2 million yuan (S$419,524).PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SHANGHAI (AFP) - The Chinese authorities have arrested six people for making and selling fake infant formula as the popular US brand "Similac", marketing the counterfeit product across seven provinces, a Shanghai government body said.

Abbott, maker of Similac, said separately on Tuesday (April 5) that the case came to light in December and the fake goods had been traced and seized by the end of last year, according to a statement on its verified Chinese microblog.

The case is the latest scandal involving food safety in China. In 2008, several infants died and thousands fell ill because of baby milk powder tainted by a chemical additive, driving parents to seek out foreign brands of infant formula.

The Shanghai Municipal Food and Drug Administration said it was also tracking Internet sales of the fake milk powder, according to its statement released on Monday.

State media reports have previously said the gang sold more than 17,000 cans, earning nearly 2 million yuan (S$419,524).

The national authorities said the fake powder posed no safety risk.

In a separate case, a Chinese court last month sentenced 10 people to jail for as long as 15 years for selling fake beef jerky, state media reported.

That gang, in the eastern province of Zhejiang, used pork but added flavouring and pigment to make the product appear like beef, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Commercial hub Shanghai pursued a high-profile case against US food producer OSI Group for packaging out-of-date and substandard meat as new product, jailing six of its employees in February.