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December 2nd, 2008
10:35 AM ET

Even more babies killed by melamine

John Vause | BIO
CNN Beijing Correspondent

It just won’t go away.

The latest figures from China’s health ministry show that even now, more than two months after the melamine in the baby milk scandal broke, almost a thousand Chinese kids are still in hospital, and according to China’s health Ministry, almost 300 thousand were made ill and a total of six kids were killed.

It is not too much of a stretch to suggest that even these numbers, do not reflect the full extent of how many babies and infants were left sick and dying. Consider this: China is the same size geographically as the US, give or take, with four times the population, and once you leave the big cities and head west, you step back in time and about two worlds. Many in the small isolated rural areas probably had no idea their kids were drinking poison, no idea why their only precious child was screaming in pain from kidney stones. This scandal has been going on for years.

I recently spoke with Marion Nestle, a very smart woman who last year warned that if the industrial chemical melamine was being used to fake high protein readings for pet food, that it wouldn’t be long before it was in the animal feed. She was so smart she wrote a book, called “Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine”. She explained to me that the melamine forms crystals, and that’s where the problems begin.

“So this crystal forms they can get quite large they block the kidneys. And that’s what happened . . . to the dogs and cats in 2007 and that’s what happened to the infants in China now, was their kidney tubules were blocked and their urine was trapped . .they died of kidney failure.”
In case you missed the point she added:
“It is not nice”.

And Marion warns the next place to look for melamine is Soy products. Melamine, it’s no longer just for breakfast.

Recently, in what could best be described was a international case of scheudenfraude, a few newspapers in China published banner headlines announcing melamine found in US baby formula. US officials said the levels were just a fraction of the killer toxic levels here in China, but that was mostly glossed over. As far as many in China are concerned we’re all in the same boat – and it’s made of melamine.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Global 360° • John Vause • Tainted Milk
soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. pat porte

    if china is all about saving face, then they are wearing a mask that says "we are the most stupid". lead...melamine...how could they think they would get away with it ?

    December 3, 2008 at 10:49 am |
  2. Bernard B.

    As an adult who experienced the pain of kidney stones I can only imagine the pain that those poor babies felt and I feel very very sorry for them.Modern societies should be more careful about chemical products released in the environment and be more alert of chemicals used as food additives or in food preparation especially for the very young ones.

    December 3, 2008 at 10:48 am |
  3. Stephen McConnell

    And our Government has said that "some melamine" in our food is NOT harmeful. They have said there are acceptable levels of it. OUR GOVERNMENT is not watching out for us.

    There are people in the U.S. with kidney problems that if they get ANY melamine in their food will die! There are NO acceptable levels in food or food products.

    Again... OUR government had demonstrated a history of not looking out for US. So, why are we faulting China, too. We need to clean up our own act before pointing the fingers elsewhere.

    December 3, 2008 at 10:47 am |
  4. Trina

    My heart goes out to the parents and babies. I cannot phantom if that was my son...God bless them.

    December 3, 2008 at 10:46 am |
  5. Taconnis, Baltimore, MD

    Okay China! How are you famous for having the world's oldest people, and you are the souce of many major inventions but you are not smart enough to run tests on your infant formula! Come on now, obviously you don't care! These are babies! The future! Something needs to be done! I agree with Hugh from Califonia, we should boycott all things MADE IN CHINA!

    December 3, 2008 at 10:45 am |
  6. Gary

    Avoiding anything Made in China is virtually impossible. Even 'high end' toys are made there. Why isn't American industry addressing the need for more Made in the USA items?!?!?!?! Talk about an industry that's ready for someone to fill a vaccuum.

    December 3, 2008 at 10:41 am |
  7. Katrina - Atlanta,GA

    I am sickened by the disgusting lack of concern for human life in China. It breaks my heart that the Chinese are not wiling to protect the least among us. My prayers go out to those parents who only wanted to feed their children.

    December 3, 2008 at 10:37 am |
  8. jean

    Even though people scream for less government, this is exactly WHY we must have government regulation. We must have clean food, air, and water.
    Without that, who will survive?

    December 3, 2008 at 10:37 am |
  9. Bill

    With all the imports from China, our safety standards are useless. We can't buy medicine from Canada but tainted stuff from China is O.K? I will be surprised if babies here in the U.S. don't start dying from imported Chinese baby formula.

    December 3, 2008 at 10:37 am |
  10. RK - New York

    I called one company right here in the US and was told their formula has "safe levels" of melamine, but the FDA hasn't set safe levels! We need to learn from the tragedy and get ahead of the curve on this – FDA are you listening?

    December 3, 2008 at 10:36 am |
  11. Debra - Georgia

    This sad situation calls to mind the cold, calculating imposition of malnutrition on third world babies, whose mothers were convinced (I think by Nestle) that formula was better for them than breast milk.

    As the grandmother to a 4 month infant, I applaud my daughter, and others like her, who understand the importance of breastfeeding and are committed to it.

    Although breast milk will contain some of the junk that mothers take in via the processed foods that they may eat, at least we don't have to worry that it will give babies a problem that may result in a painful death.

    December 3, 2008 at 10:29 am |
  12. karen

    I agree with Hugh. We need to boycott ANYTHING, "made in CHINA." Their products are cheap, but DANGEROUS. They have no regard for their people or anyone else. Americans, WAKE UP!!

    December 3, 2008 at 10:27 am |
  13. LAYLA

    China is a disgrace!! They have no ethical or moral standards, all they see is "money" and will try to increase their profits at any expense! I do not understand why the US continues to do business with them.

    December 3, 2008 at 10:25 am |
  14. Nicole - Florida

    I have a newborn baby who is on soy formula. I am very frustrated that even trace amounts are present in the US. The part that angers me the most is that they won't release the name of the formula it was found in...I don't care how little the amount was...I have a right to know. I feel as though this problem may grow here in the US. It scares me to death.

    December 3, 2008 at 10:23 am |
  15. Holly

    I really don't think people should talk about China unless they have been there. Joanne from Syracuse says girl babies are devalued in China. She is wrong. They love all babies in China and many people want to have a girl because it's not as expensive as having a boy there. The culture is extremely child oriented.

    December 3, 2008 at 10:22 am |
  16. Scott Anderson

    The Chinese and American governments are to blame for allowing lax safety monitoring and deregulation to harm children in China and in the US. Babies are getting sick and their parents are losing jobs because of corporate greed. The only baby formulas that have been found relatively safe so far are the most expensive. It is turning out that companies like the maker of Enfamil and the store brand formulas in the US have unsafe products. Don't kill your baby. Don't buy their products. Corporations also put this stuff in pet food and put lead paint on toys. Governments around the world are corrupt, including the US and Europe.

    December 3, 2008 at 10:22 am |
  17. Lorna Kellogg

    Anyone that is fool enough to believe that OUR government could effectively establish "safe levels" of melamine in baby formula here is just that , foolish.
    Of courese the levels now allowed refute a need for a radical recall and reformulation. That is until our children share the fate.. and the pain of their cousins overseas.

    December 3, 2008 at 10:21 am |
  18. Alicia, Washington D.C.

    Amazing we are suppose to protect our babies and children, regardless of what country, this s a prime example when we as a people lose our humanity

    December 3, 2008 at 10:11 am |
  19. lola

    just what happen to these products when they entered the US aren't they supposed to pass USFDA inspection before entering the market for retail to the public? i would think so. stricter policy need to be enforced by the US Govt.

    December 3, 2008 at 10:08 am |
  20. Kat

    Yet another reason why women should protect their babies by breastfeeding them.

    December 3, 2008 at 10:06 am |
  21. Chuck

    Why Melamine in any food product at any level? The human body does not need melamine for nurishment at all. The USA should ban it's use in food products period instead of playing around with what some FDA nerd considers a "Safe level" for us sheep.

    What hidden ailments are affecting US citizen's due to melimine?
    What US products cointain Melamine and why?

    December 3, 2008 at 9:47 am |
  22. James

    Hugh-you are right. Stop all China trade NOW! They dont care about us. We need to make formula in this country-not trust it to communists!

    December 3, 2008 at 9:40 am |
  23. Joe Cave

    It is truly sad how much of our world is driven by nothing more than Greed. In todays Chinese society they have been taught to line your pockets as fast as you can anyway possible and just hope you don't get caught.
    I believe the trade door with China needs to have new locks insatalled.

    December 3, 2008 at 9:31 am |
  24. Ed Florida

    I sorry I guess I missed something. If it kills you don't eat it and don't buuy it. Why are these companies putting something into food that kills. why not use rat poison at least you could enjoy a few hallusinations before you kick the bucket. Unbelievable!

    December 3, 2008 at 9:29 am |
  25. Jen, Dallas, TX.

    I suppose nobody has ever thought that this could be just another form of governmental population control?

    December 3, 2008 at 9:28 am |
  26. Josephine

    Cheap, deceitful, dirty, that is how a Communist government operates.
    There are no environmental or clean standards that are adhered to.

    I saw a display of cheap frozen vegetables at my local food store.
    They were marked as a product of China. A whole bag of veggies for .$.99.
    You get the pesticidies and chemicals. Why anyone would buy food from China and ingest it is crazy.

    The poor CHinese have no choice, but when do we wake up about dirt and chemicals in our food? I would like to know the pesticides standards of the food from Mexico also.

    Hugh from California stated it well.

    December 3, 2008 at 9:19 am |
  27. jessica, GA

    That is why our family didn't go shopping on black friday. We won't waste time and energy for "made in China" on sale products.

    December 3, 2008 at 9:15 am |
  28. Gina

    When the pet food murders of our pets were revealed to be caused by melamine in the gluten, I sent an immediate note to CNN to investigate immediately – if you wanted to kill everyone in America, gluten would be the way to do it. Ask someone with Celiac's how nearly impossible it is to avoid. Several months later they indeed found we had eaten over 5 million chickens fed with the tainted feed. Then they culled the swine, thousands of them, they too had been fed tainted feed – so the melamine was in our food chain as well. Let's not forget lead, the date rape drug in the dots game for kids, or the anti-freeze used to sweeten toothpaste and liquid medications such as cough syrups. Their fish farms have been deemed polluted and laden with veterinary drugs not suitable for human consumption. I came across some articles on other meds, like using yellow road paint to color warfarin, they're making heaps of our generic meds now. While you may think you can boycott China, you can't – their spices and other ingredients are in many of our foods, it is not required they list all of that on the label. I want to know WHY, after so many deadly infractions, we are allowing them to continue to export tainted goods? It's positively criminal!

    December 3, 2008 at 9:07 am |
  29. Ed

    The idea that this tragedy is restricted to China or that China will develop and enforce safety standards to protect people in other countries (i.e. the US) is almost laughable. The fact is this stuff is being exported to the world. It is an international tragedy.

    As for passing safety standards, the US just recently passed a standard restricting melamine to 1 part per million but the truth is, and the FDA admitted this, no one really has any idea what the real tolerance limit is.

    The real questions are what is something like melamine doing in baby formula and soy products anyway? And why is crap like that being allowed into our country at all?

    December 3, 2008 at 9:03 am |
  30. Gim

    China Greed for Profits – Get Rich Fast
    FDA, please do not let this occur in USA.

    December 3, 2008 at 8:58 am |
  31. Job Sun

    so sorry to read this news.

    December 3, 2008 at 8:53 am |
  32. Judy in Georgia

    I lost my cat of 13 years, nothing compared to losing a beloved child, but it still hurt as I buried him and then paid the astronomical vet bill of the doctor who had tried to save him.

    December 3, 2008 at 8:53 am |
  33. Jazmin

    I have watched the Lisa Ling stories and Anderson Cooper and learned about how girls born in China don't have as much value because the y can't provide for the family like males can. Could this be China's way of cutting down on the population?????

    December 3, 2008 at 8:50 am |
  34. Doreen ...PA

    this is a tragedy that could have prevented if breastfeeding was promoted and not formula feeding!! formula is a chemically mixed drink that is given to our babies. But the formula companies constantly advertise that their formulas are closest to breast milk. there is no formula that is close to breast milk. Breast milk has numerous components to it that the formula companies will never be able to imitate. Plus each mom's milk is made specifically to her baby's needs. So let's promote breastfeeding and stop making formula feeding so wonderful. Our baby's deserve better!!!

    December 3, 2008 at 8:50 am |
  35. Greg

    A lot of experts claim that China and India will be the new world powers in near future, but then you read about children dying from chemicals in China and hundreds of people getting killed in the busy streets of Mumbai and their governments are seemingly helpless or maybe don't really care. In many regards these countries are still acting like the third world and have a long way to go.

    December 3, 2008 at 8:47 am |
  36. hugh is a dumbass

    just think about Walmart, do you think they can live without china?

    December 3, 2008 at 8:43 am |
  37. Ruth Shore

    Why are companies still making their products in China? They know the problems there and yet they haven't pulled out and returned to their own country to make the products. They share the blame in my book. Leaving China would really help to solve this problem. Poisoned animals, poisoned toys with lead, poisoned babies. What else do we want before something is done!! Come on!!

    December 3, 2008 at 8:39 am |
  38. Amy, Personal Training Austin

    Overpopulation seems to be the core issue of every problem we have. It is what leads to problems like this one. But no one wants to REALLY address it.

    December 3, 2008 at 8:28 am |
  39. adoptive Mom

    On top of this being infants in China, there are many children adopted FROM China who reside all over the world. They drank this formula too, and maybe those left continue to do so.

    December 3, 2008 at 8:25 am |
  40. Terry W. Brookman

    This is not a mistake, there are almost seven billion people in the world and a lot of them are in China. You have not seen the worst of this I am sorry to say.

    December 3, 2008 at 8:21 am |
  41. Diane

    How can a country whose art and literature reflect a high regard for the natural world have the capacity to disconnect from its humanity?

    December 3, 2008 at 8:18 am |
  42. j.b.

    Breastfeed, ladies. Its the way nature intended. I hate hearing all the lazy excuses. Pump if you have to work. Its not impossible. I had to work full time and tandem nursed 2 babies and PUMPED ON MY LUNCH BREAK.
    IT CAN BE DONE.

    December 3, 2008 at 8:16 am |
  43. liz omps

    Is it possible that Chinese mothers will return to breastfeeding? This would practically guarantee that their babies will be free from the melamine scourge?

    December 3, 2008 at 8:02 am |
  44. Karen - Georgia

    These are the people we have entrusted with many of our manufacturing jobs and to produce so many of the goods we buy? Where is their conscience, their morals, their ethics????? Simply put, they have none. This is a tragedy and a travesty. I agree with Hugh, we should boycott all goods made in China and demand from our government that our manufacturing jobs be returned to us for safety reasons. The Chinese have proved themselves irresponsible and untrustworthy over and over again.

    December 3, 2008 at 7:57 am |
  45. Bruno

    Yeah good luck with that boycott. Have you tried to live without purchasing a product made in china?

    December 3, 2008 at 7:56 am |
  46. hugh ~ california

    China is unable or unwilling to test or enforce safety standards. The world should boycott anything "made in China," until they develop the standards of safety expected by a major economic power.

    December 2, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  47. Joanne, Syracuse, NY

    China allows only one child per couple....yes, sad. There are many dire human rights issues present in their culture...i.e. the perceived worthlessness of female infants - Hilary spoke to them about this years ago. And now, with NAFTA and the craving for a piece of world supremacy, China will find many formulas that devalue life. A country like that...of that proportion will eventually implode.

    December 2, 2008 at 12:47 pm |
  48. Dana Johnson

    Doesn't anybody have a conscious anymore? Who is protecting us? This is such a tragedy.

    December 2, 2008 at 11:35 am |
  49. Cindy

    It doesn't seem like to me that China is really doing all that they can to solve this problem. After this long you'd think they'd have the culprit and have this stopped.

    Cindy...Ga.

    December 2, 2008 at 11:04 am |
  50. Michelle D. Fonthill,Ontario

    It's heartbreaking to see these poor babies dying and sick .They are not taking the precautions of checking to see if the milk is ok for the babies it's just not fair these poor innocent infants are paying wit thier lives.

    December 2, 2008 at 10:55 am |
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