New Sanlu seeks to shake off image tainted by scandal

New Sanlu seeks to shake off image tainted by scandal
Zhejiang Sanlu Industrial Co shows its organic products at a booth in an international organic food exhibition in Shanghai, on May 25, 2013. The company was embroiled in melamine scandal in 2008 for its tainted milk formula.

Sanlu, the dairy brand that nearly disappeared from the public eye after its tainted milk killed at least six infants in 2008, has made its way back into the market, this time in Zhejiang province. The brand, now owned by Zhejiang Sanlu Industrial Co, no longer makes dairy products and instead produces organic products such as buckwheat and corn noodles.

Jiang Xinhua, general manager of Zhejiang Sanlu, said the company hopes to use the traditional Sanlu name to create popularity in its new products.

Sanlu Group, a State-owned dairy products company based in Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei province was the original owner of the brand. At the time, Sanlu was one of the oldest and more popular brands of infant formula in China.

But in 2008, authorities found that melamine, a chemical that creates kidney stones, was added into infant milk powder to make it seem richer in protein during food safety tests.

The tainted milk powder claimed the lives of six infants and sickened tens of thousands of children. The scandal forced Sanlu Group into bankruptcy.

The "Sanlu" trademark package, including its logos and designs, was auctioned off in May 2009. Jiang bought it for 7.3 million yuan (S$1.88 million).

"Sanlu is a traditional Chinese brand that was established more than 50 years ago. It would be a pity to see it fall," Jiang said. "We are using the already famous brand to sell our products."

More than four years after the scandal, Jiang said the company is ready to launch a new Sanlu brand in the high-end organic food market with organic certifications from China, Japan, the European Union and the United States.

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