- The Washington Times - Monday, September 22, 2008

BEIJING | A Hong Kong toddler has developed a kidney stone after drinking Chinese milk - the first reported victim outside the mainland affected by a widening scandal over a toxic chemical found in baby formula and other Chinese dairy products.

More than 6,200 infants have become sick — and four babies have died — in China after being fed baby formula laced with melamine, a banned industrial chemical.

No illnesses had been reported elsewhere until the Hong Kong government said late Saturday that a 3-year-old girl was diagnosed with a kidney stone after drinking milk produced by the Chinese dairy Yili that contained melamine.

The Hong Kong government also announced Sunday that tests found melamine in Chinese-made Nestle milk. The Dairy Farm milk was made by Nestle’s division in the Chinese coastal city Qingdao, it said.

The Swiss food and drinks giant issued a statement Sunday saying that none of its China-made dairy products contained melamine.

“Nestle once again expresses confidence that none of its products in China is made from milk adulterated with melamine,” the statement said. It did not specifically respond to the Hong Kong report of tainted Dairy Farm milk.

Nestle offices in Hong Kong and Geneva did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment. Calls after work hours to its Beijing office and Beijing hot line went unanswered.

Meanwhile, Singapore said Sunday that melamine was detected in samples of White Rabbit-brand Creamy Candy. The popular Chinese milk candy was pulled from shelves in the Philippines last year after health officials there said it was tainted with formaldehyde.

Chinese candy maker Guan Sheng Yuan Co. denied the Philippine allegations, saying that the candy tested was likely a counterfeit version and that subsequent tests showed samples of the candy were formaldehyde-free.

Already on Friday, Singapore suspended the sale and import of all Chinese milk and dairy products including milk, ice cream, yogurt, chocolate, biscuits and candy, as well as any other products containing milk from China as an ingredient.

Japan, Malaysia and Brunei have also recalled or banned Chinese-made dairy products.

Since the problem of tainted milk products became public knowledge less than two weeks ago, the crisis has spread to include almost all of China’s biggest dairy companies.

A top official with the World Health Organization said Sunday that delays in releasing critical information about contaminated Chinese milk had hampered Beijing’s ability to rapidly deal with the problem and warn consumers.

Melamine is used in making plastics and is high in nitrogen, which registers as protein in tests of milk. Though health experts say that ingesting minute amounts poses no danger, melamine can cause kidney stones, which can lead to kidney failure. Infants are particularly vulnerable.

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