Chinese police have detained three employees of a dairy firm based in the country's Shannxi province amid allegations the workers sold milk powder tainted with melamine.

The arrests, widely reported in China, come a month after two of the country's dairy workers were executed for their roles in last year's melamine scandal, in which tainted milk powder killed at least six children and sickened thousands of others.

The latest arrests centre on three workers from Shaanxi Jinqiao Dairy Company, according to reports.

Liu Ping, general manager of the dairy and two of its employees Miao Wenjun and Lu Xiaoqiang were detained on 2 December for producing and selling toxic milk powder, China Daily reported today (11 December).

The employees are said to have sold 5.25 tonnes of melamine-laced milk powder to Nanning Yueqian Food Additive Company in the southern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in September.

The Shaanxi Quality and Technical Supervison Bureau later confirmed in an examination that 11 of the 200 sacks of the milk powder had excessive melamine.

All of the tainted milk powder was confiscated on 18 November and none of them reached the market.

China's fledgling and buoyant dairy industry was brought to its knees after last year's melamine scandal but there have been signs growth is returning to the sector.

Fonterra, the largest exporter of dairy products to China, told just-food earlier this week that its dairy sales in the country are starting to recover from the damage done by the melamine scandal.

Desite sales being "substantially damaged", the company said it is "probably" back to where it was in August last year and expects growth to revert to trend, at about 9-10% per year.