China firms to compensate tainted milk victims: report

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese dairy firms that sold baby formula tainted with the industrial chemical melamine will pay compensation to the families of nearly 300,000 children who were killed or sickened as a result, state media reported.

Twenty-two dairy producers will make one-off cash payments to the families, the Xinhua news agency cited China’s Dairy Industry Association as saying on Saturday.

It did not disclose the size of the payments or list the firms that would be making the payments.

However, Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group, Mengniu Dairy and Bright Dairy group are among the firms found earlier to have produced milk contaminated with melamine.

“The enterprises offered to shoulder the compensation liability. By doing so, they hope to earn understanding and forgiveness of the families of the sickened children,” Xinhua quoted the association as saying.

Chinese authorities have said that at least six children died and around 294,000 were made ill earlier this year after they drank formula containing melamine.

The scandal battered faith in Chinese-made products and led to recalls of Chinese-made diary products around the world.

Sanlu Group, the company at the heart of the scandal, was made bankrupt as a result. Sanlu is partly owned by New Zealand’s Fonterra group.

Six people have gone on trial for their part in the scandal, accused of producing, selling or buying the chemical to put in milk, as a way of cheating nutrition tests.

(Reporting by Jason Subler; Editing by Valerie Lee)

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