The Knucklehead of the Day award

Today’s winner is Sanlu Group Co. They get the award for the following.

BEIJING — China’s government vowed “serious punishment” on Friday after a major dairy recalled 700 tons of milk powder linked to a rash of kidney stones in infants in a case that reignited fears about Chinese product safety.

U.S. authorities warned American consumers to avoid all Chinese infant formula. A New Zealand company that owns a stake in the Chinese producer said it believed none of the powder was exported from China.

Sanlu Group Co., China’s biggest milk powder producer, ordered the recall after more than 50 babies suffered kidney stones and one died, the official Xinhua News Agency said. It said tests found it was tainted with melamine, a chemical used in plastics.

“Those responsible will face serious punishment,” said a Health Ministry spokesman, Mao Qunan, quoted by Xinhua. The agency said investigators concluded the chemical was added when the milk was purchased from farmers but gave no other details. It said 78 “suspicious people” were summoned for questioning.

A leading Chinese business magazine, Caijing, quoted Sanlu’s brand manager, Su Changsheng, as saying the company knew about the contamination on Aug. 6 but refrained from telling the public. Su said Sanlu kept silent because some grocers refused to return tainted powder, but the report did not say why that prevented a warning.

Other news reports have put the number of children affected by the tainted milk at over 400.

If the business magazine was correct in its reporting, the failure to do a properly inform consumers is inexcusable. Put that aside, the company had a terrible episode of quality control with a product that is given to children. That is sufficient enough in my eyes to name Sanlu Group Co. today’s Knucklehead of the Day.

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