(CBN - Global) April 6 -- Abbott Laboratories said it does not understand why Shanghai's food safety watchdog is demanding an investigation into the whereabouts of counterfeit infant formula that came to light in a case last year when all the fakes were traced and seized at the end of 2015.
Shanghai police investigated a case involving 17,000 cans of fake Abbott baby formula. Seven suspects were arrested. One was released because of insufficient evidence. Police say the batch was distributed across China and is very difficult to seize. Shanghai Municipal Food and Drug Administration is demanding a thorough investigation into the whereabouts of the milk powder.
"All the fake Abbott products were located and completely confiscated late last year," Abbott said in statement.
"We don't know why the government has called for a thorough investigation into the location of the milk powder again," an official at Abbott told CBN. "Our information comes from the Shanghai police."
The safety of infant formula is a highly charged issue in China following cases of faked products. The most notorious case is probably that of Sanlu, a dairy products company that led in powdered milk. In 2008, hundreds of thousands of Chinese children were affected by infant formula tainted with toxic melamine. Six children died. To this day, anxious Chinese parents scramble to procure costly baby formula from overseas, often through online retailers, traveling family or friends, because of this and other tragic incidents.
Last September, Shanghai's police launched an investigation after receiving a report from Illinois-based Abbott, which contacted the authorities as soon as it discovered some batches of fake Similac formula made in the city of Jiaxing, Zhejiang province. The police attached great importance to the case and launched an immediate investigation. According to police feedback, the investigation concluded last December, and suspects were arrested.
The police apprehended several suspects who are believed to have faked the baby formulas of a number of brands by buying low-end, cheap milk powder or milk powder not suitable for babies and repackaging it in cans at illegal processing sites.
The suspects are accused of producing and selling 17,000 counterfeit cans of formula, pocketing almost CNY2 million (USD308,600). The products were sold to distributors nationwide and then to provinces and cities across China. On Jan. 15, No. 3 Branch of Shanghai People's Procuratorate authorized the arrest of six people for producing and selling counterfeit and inferior products.
(Reported by He Tianjiao)