The market regulator in Central China's Hunan province has promised zero tolerance for any illegal act in the food and drug sectors, saying it would put people's health and safety first.
"Those who are investigated and found to have violated laws and regulations will be seriously punished according to laws," said Chen Yuewen, deputy director of Hunan Provincial Administration for Market Regulation.
Chen made his remarks on Friday after a local mother and baby store was fined 2 million yuan ($285,000) and was ordered to immediately stop falsely promoting a solid drink as a milk powder in Yongxing county under the administration of Chenzhou city.
Meanwhile, Li Jianjun, deputy director of the Yongxing county administration for market regulation, and Cao Shishun, another official with the administration, have been removed from their positions for neglect of duty in the case, Yongxing county authority said.
Chen said market regulators and relevant departments will further expand inspection on local food and drug markets in the months ahead.
Chen said his administration immediately established a special task force to investigate the cases after some parents in Yongxing county complained that their infants and young children were suspected to have contracted rickets after drinking the milk made from the fake powder they had purchased from the mother and baby store last month.
The fake milk powder the mother and baby store sold was found to be a protein powder produced by a local health product company, said Chen, who heads the task force.
"The store had admitted after a further investigation to have published false advertising to mislead consumers and promote sales," Chen told media.
The fake milk powder has been withdrawn from the store, he said.
"But no food quality or safety problems have been found so far after a thorough inspection and examination by a third party from South China's Guangdong province, as the protein drink's 33 main quality and safety indexes meet the State's standards," said Chen.
Pediatricians have been organized to conduct free comprehensive and scientific physical examinations for five of the victims and offer their diagnosis and treatment.
"All the victims are now in stable condition," he added.
No hospitals and doctors were found to have been involved in the case so far.
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