China Farmer Gets Death Penalty For Poisoning Milk

Published December 9, 2011 9:45AM (EST)

BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese dairy farmer has been sentenced to death for lacing her rival's milk supply with industrial salt, causing the deaths of three young children, state media said Friday.

China has been plagued by a slew of food safety scandals. The government cracked down after the industrial chemical melamine was added to milk products to appear to bolster the protein content. That 2008 scandal had nationwide reach and left six children dead and sickened 300,000.

But the latest case was isolated. A local court in Pingliang city in far western China's Gansu province found Ma Xiuling guilty of deliberately adding nitrite to the milk of a dairy farming couple in revenge for some business disputes, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Earlier reports said a month-old baby and two children younger than 2 died. Xinhua said 36 people were hospitalized.

The Gansu Daily newspaper said Ma's husband, Wu Guangquan, was sentenced to life in prison for purchasing the poison.

Both Ma and her husband have lodged appeals, Xinhua said.

(This version CORRECTS 36 were sickened instead of 39.)

By Salon Staff

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