A special task force has been set up to investigate a fake milk powder case in which some babies and children were reported to have contracted rickets after drinking the powder in Chenzhou, Hunan province.
The fake milk powder is actually a protein-type solid drink that can be bought from local pharmacies and some mother and baby shops.
The powder was produced by Hunan Waverock Health Industry Co.
On Wednesday, the State Administration for Market Regulation ordered market regulation departments in Hunan province to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident.
Qiu Chuanhui, director of the Yongxing county administration for market regulation, said his administration has joined hands with the local health commission, public security and relevant departments to launch a monthlong inspection to investigate and eliminate the production and sale of fake milk powder for infants and children, as well as related food.
"Meanwhile, senior pediatricians have been organized to conduct comprehensive and scientific physical examinations for five of the victims for free and offer their diagnoses and treatment," Qiu told local media firm rednet.cn on Wednesday.
Yongxing county, under the administration of Chenzhou, has had reports of many victims of fake milk powder in previous weeks.
The fake milk powder was withdrawn from local pharmacies and shops in Yongxing after the case was exposed, Qiu said.
The babies and children who were diagnosed with rickets after drinking the fake milk powder experienced severe weight loss, which gave them the appearance of having large heads, and have suffered from developmental delay and other symptoms, Qiu added.
The Chenzhou city authority promised to investigate the case and punish those responsible, the city authority said on Wednesday.
Meanwhile the city's administration for market regulation and relevant departments arranged for the victims to get physical examinations and will help them seek compensation, the city authority said.
The special task force was set up after many complaints and reports from parents in the previous weeks, the city authority said.
According to a statement released by the Yongxing county government on Wednesday, no hospitals and doctors were found to have been involved in the case so far.
Fearing that their children will have chronic conditions when they grow up, many parents wrote a joint open letter to the Chenzhou mayor, asking for a thorough investigation of the case.
A father surnamed Hu said his 3-year-old child suffers from physical and mental stunting after drinking the milk powder for months.
"The 3-year-old child's intelligence seems the same as a 2-years-old's," he told local media.
Further, a mother surnamed Zhu said her child frequently fell ill with cough and eczema, and many indicators have been determined to be substandard after health checkups.
The fake milk powder is not cheap. Many parents spent more than 3,000 yuan ($430) a month to buy it, she added.It is the second case involving fake milk powder in Chenzhou in a year. The city had reported a similar case late last year.