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Crying over tainted milk

Bloomberg.com reported that four children in China have died and over 12,000 hospitalized after consuming milk tainted with melamine, a chemical used in making plastics, flame retardants and fertilizers. The number of children hospitalized has risen almost ten-fold since the China Daily's initial reports on Monday.

Melamine, according to health experts, can cause kidney stones and lead to kidney failure. It is strictly forbidden as a food additive. However, the China Daily reported that the chemical cleverly is able to fool quality checks, making the milk seem like it has a higher protein value than it really does.

Two brothers who sold the fresh milk used to produce the contaminated baby formula were arrested on Monday. The brothers said they knowingly added the chemical to recover from losses when a factory rejected earlier milk shipments, the China Daily reported. The brothers are charged with producing and selling toxic and hazardous food. If found guilty, the brothers could face a death sentence, the newspaper said.

Since Friday, melamine was found in milk produced by three of China's largest dairy producers, prompting stores such as Starbucks to pull milk products off their shelves, reported ABC News. While it was only powdered baby formula that was thought to have been contaminated, liquid milk, and dairy products including yogurt, have also been taken off of shelves.

ABC News reported China's product safety watchdog as having said that all batches of contaminated dairy products were being recalled in an effort to "severely punish those who are responsible."

Authorities in the United States have inspected more than 1,000 retail markets, but have not found any tainted dairy products.