China closes 4,000 milk collection stations

BEIJING – China has shut down nearly 4,000 milk collection stations for failing to meet safety standards, nine months after tainted milk products were blamed for sickening hundreds of thousands of babies and killing six children, the official Xinhua News Agency said Wednesday.

The closures come after the government inspected all of the country's 20,393 milk collection stations since last November, Song Kungang, director-general of the China Dairy Industry Association, said, according to Xinhua.

It found 3,908 lacked testing equipment or were not sanitary, it said.

Milk collection stations were found to be the weak link that caused milk contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine to be sold on the market.

The crisis, which unfolded in September, was one of China's worst food safety scandals.

Owners and farmers colluded to add melamine to milk to make it appear higher in protein. Major milk producers have been criticized for not carrying out adequate testing.

"All the working milk stations have been under close supervision," Song was quoted as saying, while in Hohhot the capital of the milk-producing region of Inner Mongolia.

A Siberian tiger cub is seen with its mother at a zoo in China. REUTERS/China Daily