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China Issues Death Sentences Over Melamine Milk Formula Scandal

China issues death sentences over melamine scandalThe tragedy over the melamine tainted milk scandal in China continues.

Not only have six young Chinese children died from kidney stones and more than 290,000 made ill from melamine-contaminated milk formula, but now a Chinese court has issued death sentences for two men involved in the contaminated milk scandal.

The two men are executives from Sanlu Group, a Chinese firm that hid reports of deaths and sicknesses caused by formula that contained melamine.  Tian Wenhua, the former general manager of Sanlu Group, has plead guilty to charges of “producing and selling fake or substandard products”.  She has been sentenced to life in prison.

China is responding to the melamine crisis with strict sentences, as well as production controls.  According to Reuters, the Chinese government hopes to reduce the number of melamine producers:

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has circulated for comment draft production permit rules aiming to stem a melamine production glut and stop it from tainting food, the China Chemical Industry News reported.

Melamine is used to maker fertilizers, plastics and other industrial goods but gained notoriety as a cheap additive for milk and other foods. Rich in nitrogen, melamine can be used to fool tests for protein.


I do not support the death penalty.  As a parent, I may feel differently if my child had died from melamine formula; however, on principle I feel such sentences will not deter other corporations from putting children’s health at risk in the name of profit.  Many product recalls in the United States do result in deaths, such as the recent peanut butter recall, but these executives are not sentenced to death.  Granted, the Chinese Sanlu executives are charged with hiding the deaths, thus causing more children to be sick from the melamine formula, but is the death penalty justified?  Is China issuing capital punishment sentences just to demonstrate to the world they take food contamination serious?   Capital punishment does not deter crime:

Scientific studies have consistently failed to demonstrate that executions deter people from committing crime anymore than long prison sentences. Moreover, states without the death penalty have much lower murder rates. The South accounts for 80% of U.S. executions and has the highest regional murder rate.

Meanwhile, the deaths from melamine have not ended in China. On Sunday, a two-month-old boy died after being fed with milk formula made by a Guangdong milk company in eastern Zhejiang province.  It seems the issue of tainted food causing deaths in children will not end as a result of this harsh sentencing.

Image:  nddaily


  1. What you don’t realize is that they DELIBERATELY used melamine in the milk products knowing full well that it is NOT safe to be used. They did it because they wanted to commit fraud. By using melamine (and of course not saying they put it in there) it made their product appear to be higher in protein that it was…and therefor it accidently seemed to pass quality control standards. Yes, this was definately a crime that was done to sell a cheap product for top dollar and make huge profits without caring who died…and when they did start to die..they hid the facts and tried to get away with murder…all for the sake of making higher profits. Yes, this deserves the death penalty. More than one child was poisoned for profit. This is much different than the salamonila peanut butter products we are facing. That is a case of a machine operator not properly cleaning? Certainly it wasn’t deliberately added to the products as a cheaper ingredient with the intent to deceive the public. Yes, it’s always unfortunate when any food goes bad and is sold….but that is way different from deliberately adding a non-food chemical known to be dangerous for the distinct purpose of fraudlently creating profit.

  2. Mystery, your point is well taken, although I am not sure that the recent outbreaks of salmonella or e coli or mad cow are not somehow deliberate. The rise of corporate agriculture and food production for profits has caused safety to be set aside. Of course, there is a difference perhaps in intentionality, but choices are always made on the corporate level that affect how health. I still don’t support the death penalty, but you have some very valid points in your comment.

  3. big iron al says:

    Even after our 5 month old grandson was murdered by his day care worker in Sept ’06 I DO NOT believe in the death penalty with the exception of any person or persons who do what the peanut processing plant in Texas did and that was to continue to sell tainted peanut products that they knew could sicken and even KILL folks but they did it anyway! These are the assholes who need to be executed RIGHT NOW! We all know if convicted these creeps will probably get a large fine when in reality they should, at the very least, spend the rest of their natural lives in prison, with no possibility of any pardon, parole,etc!

  4. Ms. Lance, you clearly don’t understand the meaning of the word ‘deliberate’.

  5. Mst.tahmina Akter says:

    The people who are associated with this scandel must be punished.The brand or the organization who prepared this,will be stopped either,or have take all the responsibility for those babies who have affected by this poison ,melamine.It will be a good penalty for them.with death all things are gone.so death penalty is not an appropriate one, I think so.Let the culprit live and demolish their life with most painful way for their whole life.


  1. […] aside: Kidney stones in Chinese babies were recently traced back to milk formula tainted with melamine, but no possibility of a similar connection in this country is mentioned.  Odd, since cases of […]

  2. […] not sold on the melamine bowl, as melamine scares me.  I  don’t want to contribute to any Chinese baby deaths from melamine contamination. I do like this product.  It is unique and solves one toxic problem in the kitchen for those who […]

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