China parents of melamine victim paid $29,000

By Emma Graham-Harrison

SHIJIAZHUANG, China (Reuters) - The parents of the first Chinese child killed by tainted milk formula have received $29,000 compensation, state media said, with the government hoping the payments and a trial will quell popular anger.

The melamine scandal has battered faith in China-made products after a series of other food- and product-safety scares, and led to recalls of China-made dairy products around the world.

The five-month-old son of Yi Yongsheng and Jiao Hongfang died in May from kidney stones and agonizing complications after drinking formula adulterated with melamine, one of six Chinese infants whose deaths have been blamed on milk powder made by the now-moribund Sanlu Group.

The couple, farmers in northwest China’s Gansu province, were given 200,000 yuan ($29,000) by Sanlu as part of a compensation drive orchestrated by the government, which has faced bitter complaints from the families of the some 296,000 children affected by the tainted milk.

By taking the money, the grieving couple has to give up any chance of suing in court over the death.

Some parents have said they will refuse to accept compensation, calling it too little for the scandalous failure of Sanlu and other Chinese dairy companies to block melamine, which can be used to fool nutrition checks.

The couple’s lawyer, Shen Xianlei, “said in developed regions the amount offered by the companies might not be acceptable,” Xinhua reported.

By late December, there were still 861 children in hospital with kidney problems, the report said.

Sanlu and other dairy companies have offered 200,000 yuan for families whose children died, 30,000 yuan for serious illness, and 2,000 yuan for less severe cases, it said.

Executives from Sanlu are awaiting sentencing after trial late last year. They have been accused of covering up the spreading scandal.

Tian Wenhua, 66-year-old former general manager of Sanlu Group, pleaded guilty to charges of “producing and selling fake or substandard products.”

Sanlu is partly owned by New Zealand’s Fonterra group.


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