BEIJING Aug 22 Vinegar stored in plastic
barrels that once contained antifreeze is suspected of killing
11 people and making 120 others sick in China's northwest
Xinjiang region, state media said on Monday, in the latest
deadly food safety scandal to hit the country.
Police said residents of Sangzhu village, near Hotan, in the
vast region that is home to many ethnic Uighur Muslims, had
consumed the toxic vinegar on Saturday during a large Ramadan
feast, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Authorities were still investigating the poisoning, which
killed at least one six-year-old child.
"(An) initial probe shows that villagers ate vinegar from
two plastic barrels which were used to contain antifreeze,
before feeling sick," Xinhua said, though it added the cause has
not been officially confirmed.
China has been plagued by food safety scandals in recent
years and leaders have struggled to rein in the unruly food
sector despite tough punishments and repeated vows to crack down
on the problem.
Since July, Chinese courts have sentenced at least a dozen
people to jail, including one person who received a suspended
death sentence, for their roles in producing or selling pork
tainted with a toxic chemicals.
China said it would give rewards to people who report on
food safety issues, such as the illegal use of additives or sale
of meat from animals which die of disease, but has not said how
much money it would offer.
In 2008, at least six children died and nearly 300,000 fell
ill from drinking milk made from powder laced with melamine, an
industrial compound added to milk and milk power to give
misleadingly high results in protein tests.
(Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Ben Blanchard and