In China, 2 jailed in fake-milk case

BEIJING (AP) -- Two local officials have been jailed for failing to stop sales of a fake milk powder that led to the deaths of 13 infants in an eastern Chinese city, the government announced today.
State media trumpeted the convictions as a sign of the government's heightened concern for public safety amid a string of deaths and injuries blamed on widespread counterfeiting of food and medicines.
Bai Qixiang and Li Tingjun, commerce officials in Fuyang, were sentenced Thursday to 2 1/2 years and one year, respectively, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
China launched a nationwide food safety crackdown after the discovery of the deaths and hundreds of cases of malnutrition for which fake formula that contained almost no nutrients was blamed.
More than 200 infants suffered malnutrition after being fed the milk, the government said.
More than 130 merchants, milk producers and local officials were arrested. State media said today that 55 companies accused of making the fake milk were ordered to close.
Bai and Li were the first officials jailed in the scandal. Two merchants who sold the milk powder were sentenced to prison last week on charges of violating hygiene rules.

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