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New ban on reporting tainted milk scandal

(IFJ/IFEX) - 4 February 2010 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is appalled at the latest media order issued by the Guangdong Province Propaganda Department banning independent reporting on a new toxic melamine milk scandal.

According to local sources, the order states that all media outlets must only use information formally released by the authorities. The order does not, however, specify which authorities are responsible for publishing the information.

No relevant information is currently available on the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, the supervisory department for all food products in China.

The ban comes as melamine-tainted milk products were reported to have been found on sale in China.

In 2008, at least six children died and another 300,000 suffered illness after milk products were found to be tainted with the industrial chemical melamine.

"Yet another ban on media conducting independent reporting about a major public health issue in China, and the failure of authorities themselves to make vital information available, raises further concerns about prioritising censorship over the wellbeing of citizens," IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.

"China's Central Government must intervene immediately to ensure that all vital information regarding the health of citizens reaches the public."

Journalists and media workers continue to face bans and harassment for any investigations or interviews related to the 2008 incident.

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