Chinese supermarkets and shops pulled milk and a wide range of other dairy products off their shelves Friday as a sweeping recall of goods tainted with a dangerous chemical hit full gear.
A worker removes all the Chinese milk powder brands from the shelves of a French supermarket chain Carrefour in Hefei, eastern China's Anhui province on September 19, 2008. (AFP Photo)
Yili, Mengniu and Guangming -- big brands consumed and trusted by hundreds of millions of Chinese -- were affected by the recall after authorities checked their products and found traces of melamine, a chemical used in plastics.
"All problem products have been banned from our stores," an executive at Jian-Mart, a popular supermarket chain, told AFP.
"Products from Yilin, Mengniu and Guangming have been pulled off the shelves, including milk, milk powder and yoghurt," she said, giving only her surname, Zhao.
The government agency in charge of product quality supervision on Friday issued detailed findings from a comprehensive national check, showing 24 the 295 batches it tested from the three dairy companies were contaminated.
"The manufacturers should of their own accord recall all products where melamine has been detected," the agency said on its website.
Melamine can make products look like they are bursting with protein, but consumed in large amounts it can be lethal.
Four babies have died so far from kidney failure in China's most recent product safety scandal, and more than 6,000 have fallen ill.
The scare escalated Thursday when the government announced that a number of milk products, and not only baby formula, are tainted with the chemical.
The three companies hit by the latest recall could not be reached for comment Friday.
But retailers complained that the scandal was costing them dearly.
"Normally we can sell 53,000 yuan (7,700 dollars) of dairy products per day, but at present we sell less than 10,000 yuan," said Wang Feiqi, a manager at a branch of supermarket chain Wu-Mart.
"I think this will last at least one or two months. Customers won't come to buy these products unless they reach the national standard."