Over 1,000 melamine babies still in China hospitals

BEIJING (Reuters) - Over a thousand Chinese infants are still in hospital receiving treatment for kidney damage caused by tainted milk, China’s Health Ministry said on Thursday, more than two months after the scandal broke.

A total 50,741 children have recovered and been discharged, since news that many dairy products were contaminated with an industrial chemical sent parents rushing for check-ups.

Four children died from problems caused by melamine and there was a global panic as products including sweets, biscuits and ice-cream were found to be contaminated.

The scandal fueled domestic fears about the food safety and dented the “made in China” brand at a time of global slowdown and sluggish exports.

The United States has since banned all imports of Chinese food products unless they are certified either free of diary or free of melamine.

The white powder was added to watered down milk because it mimics protein in some quality tests, and has since shown up in eggs because it was added to animal feed for the same reason.

It is normally used in making plastics including floor tiles, whiteboards and kitchenware.

Door-to-door screening of more than 307,000 Beijing families with children under the age of three found that over 75,000 babies had been fed contaminated milk formula, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Reporting by Emma Graham-Harrison; Editing by David Fox