The suspects were allegedly managing a company, which was packaging expired products of New Zealand dairy company Fonterra – one of the most popular brands in China – into smaller packages for resale below market prices, according to media reports.
After a months-long investigation, the police discovered that one of the suspects sold the expired products to another company, who in turn allegedly resold almost 200 tonnes to distributors in Shanghai and in the Jiangsu, Henan and Qinghai provinces, who sold them on e-commerce platforms or in wholesale.
It’s latest scandal to hit China’s beleaguered food industry, where food safety incidents, including sale of adulterated or expired products have been on the rise.
The dairy sector has been among the worst affected by such incidents.
In 2008, six babies died and 300,000 were affected by melamine-contaminated baby milk powder produced in China, prompting many Chinese citizens to begin turning to foreign milk products.
Another scandal shook the industry in 2013 when Fonterra admitted that some of its products exported to China were contaminated by a bacteria because of a dirty pipe at one of its plants.