Chinese dairy processor Mengniu Dairy has admitted producing milk containing excessive levels of a cancer-causing chemical.

Mengniu said last week (27 December) that a state inspection team had found a batch of its milk products were contaminated with flavacin M1, which can cause liver cancer.

The company said cows at its firm in Meishan in central China had produced raw milk containing the chemical. It blamed the contamination on “mouldy and deteriorated” fodder.

However, Mengniu said the affected products had not been released to market and insisted the items were immediately sealed and destroyed “without delay”.

“At present, all products on shelf in the markets within and outside the People’s Republic of China, including the Hong Kong market, have passed the relevant standards,” Mengniu said on 27 December.

“From the lesson learnt from this incident, the group will reinforce its quality control procedures by closely monitoring products quality over each production process from raw milk collection to final products delivery to ensure product quality and food safety.”

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By GlobalData

Nevertheless, the contamination is the latest food safety scandal to rock Mengniu and the wider Chinese dairy sector. In 2008, Mengniu was one of a number of Chinese dairy processors that had products tested positive for melamine, an industrial chemical.

Milk products contaminated with melamine was linked to the deaths of at least six infants and thousands of illnesses.

Shares in Mengniu slumped last week in the wake of the announcement and reports said the company’s website was hacked.

Hackers changed the website address mengniu.com.cn to “Hacked By:Drift” and posted a message that said: “Mengniu once made the Chinese people strong and proud, but now it’s doing harm to its own people”, Bloomberg reported.