BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese police have seized more than 26 tonnes of milk powder tainted with melamine from a ice cream maker in a southwestern city, state media said, three years after milk tainted with the industrial chemical killed six and made thousands ill.
The Chongqing-based company bought the milk powder from a company in the southern region of Guangxi at a lower-than-market price in March, the official Xinhua News Agency said late on Tuesday.
The powder, produced in Inner Mongolia to the far north, was first sold to the Guangxi company in 2009, Xinhua said, adding most of the powder was found to be lumpy when it was seized.
No dairy products made from the milk powder ended up on the market as the company had closed for regular maintenance shortly after buying the powder, the report added.
Company managers at three companies have been detained in connection with the tainting, Xinhua said.
The food sector has been beset by poisonings and toxin scandals that have shaken consumer confidence. Numerous government crackdowns have apparently had little effect.
In 2008, at least six children died and nearly 300,000 fell ill from powdered milk laced with melamine, an industrial chemical added to low quality or diluted milk to fool inspectors checking for protein levels.
China said in March at least 20 percent of domestic dairy companies would lose their operating licenses following inspections of fresh milk and infant formula producers.
Three children died this month after drinking nitrate-laden milk in what police judged an intentional poisoning.
Reporting by Sally Huang and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ron Popeski