The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, China's consumer quality regulator, said on Thursday that it has found an "unusual amount" of mercury in baby formula produced by Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co., one of the country's biggest dairy companies.
The canned milk which is not covered by "unusual amount" of mercury is still sold in a Shanghai supermarket. The General Administration of Quality Supervision on June 14 said it has found an "unusual amount" of mercury in baby formula produced by Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co.
The quality regulator said in a statement that the mercury, a metallic element that is toxic in high doses, was detected in several batches of Yili products during a check of baby formula products.
The administration has thus far examined samples from 715 infant formula products, covering all of the country's formula producers, the statement said.
Yili was the only company found to have products contaminated with mercury, the statement said.
The Inner Mongolia autonomous region's local consumer quality regulator has also reported "unusual" mercury content in two batches of Yili baby formulas and two samples of Yili whey powder.
The mercury levels of these products were higher than the average levels of similar products, said Ma Li, deputy head of Inner Mongolia's quality inspection bureau.
Yili announced Thursday that it started recalling the defective products on Wednesday. The recall applies to "QuanYou" products that were produced between November 2011 and May 2012.
Yili said it will find the cause of the contamination and properly handle all tainted products.
The company said all of its other products were found to have normal mercury levels, according to both the company's own tests and government checks.
China's dairy industry suffered a heavy blow after a scandal in 2008 in which baby formula was found to be tainted with melamine, an industrial compound used to create plastic and resin. The tainted formula led to the deaths of six infants and sickened 300,000 children across the country.
In late December last year, products manufactured by Mengniu, another leading dairy company that is also based out of Inner Mongolia, were found to contain high levels of aflatoxin, a carcinogen.
Yili saw its profits more than double in 2011 to top 1.8 billion yuan (US$287.3 million) due to booming sales. Shares of the company rose 1.04 percent to 24.28 yuan per share on Thursday.