BEIJING (AP) -- China's Communist Party has punished eight more senior government officials for their roles in last year's tainted infant formula scandal, a state news agency reported Friday.
Milk laced with the industrial chemical melamine was blamed for the deaths of at least six babies and the sickening of nearly 300,000 others. The scandal forced the head of China's quality watchdog to resign, and courts have sentenced two men to death for producing the chemical and supplying dairies with toxic milk.
The crisis also highlighted the need for major overhauls in China's food safety system, and led to a law enacted this month that consolidates hundreds of separate regulations covering the country's 500,000 food processing companies.
The official Xinhua News Agency said the Communist Party's disciplinary body removed Wang Bubu, chief of the law enforcement and supervision department at China's quality watchdog, from his official and party posts. A deputy chief of food circulation supervision at the State Administration for Industry and Commerce was also fired, it said.
Six others -- from agencies including the State Food and Drug Administration and the Ministries of Agriculture and Health -- received penalties including demotions and having their misdeeds recorded, Xinhua said. Xinhua said all were punished for their failures in supervising.
Several senior city officials were fired last year in Shijiazhuang, the northern Chinese city where the dairy at the heart of the scandal was based. The chairwoman of the company has been sentenced to life in prison.
The scandal has been blamed on middlemen who added melamine, which is high in nitrogen, to watered-down milk to fool quality tests for protein content. Melamine can cause kidney stones and kidney failure.