BEIJING Oct 14 Chinese authorities in the
northern city of Tianjin have punished 13 medical workers for
taking bribes from Danone S.A. to recommend the French
food maker's infant formula, the local government said on
The move comes after the official China Central Television
(CCTV) reported in September that Danone bribed doctors and
nurses to recommend its Dumex milk powder brand at one Tianjin
The CCTV report led to Tianjin's government and police
launching an investigation into the bribery charges. Danone also
said it had launched an investigation.
The "serious violators" received penalties ranging from
cancellation of medical licences to salary deductions, Tianjin's
government said in a statement on its website. Several of them
had to go through Communist Party disciplinary procedures.
Athena Wang, the spokeswoman for Dumex China, told Reuters
the company had no further comment, but reiterated that it had
launched and completed an investigation.
Local government investigators said the workers were among
116 people from 85 hospitals and health groups who took bribes
from Danone to give talks to parents of newborns, recommend
Dumex formula and give out product samples, the statement said.
World Health Organization guidelines, implemented in China,
say doctors must advise new mothers to breastfeed unless there
are medical reasons to use formula instead.
Infant formula has been controversial in China since a
scandal in 2008 when the industrial chemical melamine was added
to baby milk and killed at least six children and left thousands
The incident seriously damaged consumer confidence in local
firms and led to international competitors gaining market share.
Corruption is widespread in the the health care system,
fuelled in part by low salaries for doctors and nurses.
(Reporting by Megha Rajagopalan and Adam Rose; Edited by Raju