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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Merry Christmas – Sanlu Files For Bankruptcy – Melamine and the Global Implications of Food Contamination – UPDATE

Well the reported 294,000 Chinese children (number from government sources – likely a gross under-count) poisoned by Sanlu woke up this morning with a lump of coal as their gift from Sanlu and the Chinese government – Sanlu has filed for bankruptcy protection. Now the chance that these victims would ever have received compensation has disappeared.

Interestingly in the recent New England Journal of Medicine, Julie R. Ingelfinger, M.D., a superb physician who has reviewed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome cases for me in the past, authored and interesting look at Melamine and the Global Supply of food. The introduction is below:

Food contamination, whether accidental or intentional, has been a sad, recurrent theme throughout recorded history, going back some 8000 years and described in the Old Testament. However, a new dimension has been added in this new millennium: globalization and international agribusiness allow problems with the food supply to spread around the planet all too quickly. The most recent, and still evolving, example is the epidemic of melamine poisoning stemming from tainted infant formula in China. More than 294,000 children in China have reportedly been affected by adulterated formula. Over 50,000 were hospitalized, and at least 6 died. Some are said to remain in the hospital. There are also reports that children in other parts of Asia — such as Taiwan, Singapore, and Vietnam — were also affected. Those who became ill had ingested melamine-contaminated powdered infant formula; some 22 brands were implicated. In the wake of this stunning discovery, the contaminated formula was taken off the market, but the story of melamine contamination is far from over.

In addition to its catastrophic health effects, the contamination has had major economic effects, with the United States and other countries banning the importation of milk and other food products from China. Recent news reports note that China has asked the United States to lift its ban on milk products and that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has opened an office in Beijing (and will open others in Shanghai and Guangzhou and in other countries) that will examine food exports destined for the United States.

BBC reported this morning that  – "China firms ‘to pay milk victims"

The firms also agreed to create a fund to cover victims’ medical bills Chinese dairy firms involved in the tainted milk scandal are to compensate the families of the nearly 300,000 affected children, state media said.  Twenty-two companies will make an undisclosed one-off cash payment to the families, Xinhua reported quoting the China Dairy Industry Association.