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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Execution, as a food safety “kill step,” does not seem to be much of a deterrence

Just a few weeks ago, the New York Times reported “2 Executed in China for Selling Tainted Milk:”

China executed two milk producers on Tuesday for selling more than three million pounds of contaminated milk products in connection with a food-safety scandal that killed six infants, shocking the country last year. More than 300,000 children were also sickened after consuming milk products contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine. The scandal caused panic among Chinese parents, weakened the nation’s dairy industry and provoked a global recall of Chinese-made dairy products. The authorities described the two men who were executed, Zhang Yujun and Geng Jinping, as among the biggest culprits of the scandal. Mr. Zhang was found guilty of selling more than 1.3 million pounds of tainted milk powder from July 2007 to August 2008, and Mr. Geng was convicted of selling more than 1.9 million pounds of contaminated product.

Now, yesterday, the Times reports that “China Arrests 3 for Selling Tainted Milk Powder:”

The Chinese police arrested three people on Tuesday, accusing them of selling milk powder contaminated with melamine, the same toxic chemical that was blamed last year for killing 6 children and sickening over 300,000 others in one of the country’s worst food safety scandals. The three men, all of whom worked for Jinqiao Dairy Company in north China’s Shaanxi Province, were accused of producing and selling toxic food, according to China’s official Xinhua News agency. Investigators said the milk powder was confiscated in November, before it could reach stores. Although the contaminated milk powder did not reach stores this time, the case is likely to raise new concerns about the country’s food safety system. This is the third consecutive year that regulators have caught food producers selling goods that were apparently intentionally doctored with melamine.

I admit, I am not a fan of the death penalty – for a lot of reasons.  The one reason, however, that really drives my opinion – as it relates to food poisoning cases – is how oddly punishment is meted out.  To think about how two low-level milk brokers get bullets to the backs of their heads in China, but executives in the United States sit comfortably at home tonight after being responsible for sickening, paralyzing or killing hundreds, without any criminal responsibility, is beyond me.

  • Lamont

    This is a photo took at least 15-20years ago.From the uniform of the policemen(light yellow shirt) and procecutor(Green Jacket in the middle). Those were the uniforms 15-20years ago in China. I don’t know why the criminals were executed, but I can tell it was an old story, not for the MILK CASE.