More than 10,000 children remained hospitalized after being sickened in China's tainted milk scandal, eight of whom were in serious condition, officials said.
The Health Ministry said in a statement Wednesday that 10,666 children were in hospitals after drinking milk powder contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine, which can lead to kidney stones and possibly life-threatening kidney failure.
No new deaths have been recorded, it said. The scandal has so far been blamed for the deaths of four babies and the sickening of about 54,000 others in China.
But the effects of the scandal continue to be felt, forcing the government to deal with festering health and public relations issues. China's food exports have increasingly suffered, with more nations issuing import bans.
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Singapore's food safety agency said Thursday it found traces of melamine in three more Chinese-made products. The authority said the chemical was detected in blueberry and chocolate flavored Cadbury Choclairs and Panda Dairy-brand Whole Milk Powder.
Also on Thursday, Hong Kong's Centre for Food Safety said it found melamine in EDO Pack Almond Cacao Biscuit Sticks produced by Hong Kong company EDO Trading.
Philippine Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said at a meeting of health ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Manila that member nations should strengthen regulations.
Dairy suppliers have been accused of adding melamine – used in products including plastics and paint – to watered-down milk to make the product appear rich in protein and fool quality control tests.
There had been no standards for the amount of the chemical allowed in food.
Under Health Ministry guidelines released Wednesday, melamine is now limited to one part per million for infant formula and 2.5 parts per million for milk, milk powder and food products that contain more than 15 percent milk.
Levels of melamine discovered in batches of milk powder recently registered as much as 6,196 parts per million.