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China to Raise Requirements on Infant Formula Producers

China plans to increase standards for domestic infant-formula producers amid fresh concerns about food safety after Fonterra Cooperative Group Ltd. warned of tainted ingredients in some products.

The government is seeking public feedback on new rules for the baby-milk industry, according to a statement posted on the China Food and Drug Administration’s website yesterday. The regulations, published in draft form, will require producers to own milk sources and have research and development capability, the agency said.

Fonterra’s announcement this week that it found the bacteria that causes botulism in about 38 metric tons of whey protein concentrate it produced is the latest incident in China’s milk industry. The Auckland-based company in January had to assure China that traces of an agricultural chemical found in some milk posed no health risks.

In 2008, locally made melamine-contaminated milk powder killed six infants in China. Fonterra’s partner Sanlu Group, one of 22 companies that sold formula made from tainted milk, collapsed in the industrywide scandal.

China’s new rules will raise management and production requirements for the industry, especially on the purchasing of raw and supplementary materials, according to the CFDA. In a separate statement, the agency listed the 128 companies licensed to produce infant formula in China.

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