BEIJING, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Nearly 10 percent of milk samples taken from top Chinese dairy companies was contaminated by melamine, the government quality watchdog found after testing for the compound that has killed four children in a widening scandal.
The nationwide inspection of milk showed the problem of contamination ran wider than the tainted milk powder that has made thousands of infants ill.
Officials said most milk was safe to drink, trying to bolster public trust already rocked by a litany of food scares involving eggs, pork and seafood in recent years.
The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine pointed its finger at two of China's top dairy producers in a statement on its website (www.aqsiq.gov.cn).
Almost one-tenth of milk batches from Mengniu Dairy (2319.HK: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co Ltd (600887.SS: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) tested positive for melamine, a compound banned in food, the quality watchdog said.
The health scare erupted after Sanlu Group last week revealed it had produced and sold melamine-laced milk powder, and a subsequent probe found a fifth of 109 Chinese dairy producers were selling formula adulterated with the substance.
At the latest count, 6,244 children have fallen ill with kidney stones after drinking powdered melamine-tainted milk, with four deaths and 158 suffering "acute kidney failure". (For a factbox on recent scandals, see CHINA-PRODUCT/SAFETY (FACTBOX) or click on [ID:nT96138]) (Reporting by Simon Rabinovitch; Editing by Nick Macfie)
source: CORRECTED-Ten percent of China milk samples found tainted