Sanlu Group - which is at the heart of the tainted-milk scandal - is ready to resume production, a senior official of the city where the dairy conglomerate is based said Tuesday.
Li Jinlu, executive vice-mayor of Shijiazhuang, told a meeting of the city people's congress that a factory wholly owned by Sanlu Group had completed procedures for restarting production.
Seven of its affiliate factories in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, have resumed production after changing their names, Li said. They include those producing milk under the Wahaha and Feihe brands.
Another, which does not use the Sanlu brand, has also resumed operations, Li said.
Of the seven other dairy firms in Shijiazhuang, three have also restarted operations, he added.
"Our guidelines are that (city) dairy companies resume operations before restructuring," Li was quoted as saying by Hebei Youth Daily.
All 16 dairy companies in the city were ordered shut after the scandal involving melamine-laced milk surfaced.
Sanlu products were found to contain the industrial chemical - used to increase the appearance of protein in milk - whose use is restricted in milk.
Children can develop kidney stones after drinking melamine-contaminated milk. The Ministry of Health said last Wednesday that almost 50,000 children were found to have kidney stones, of whom 3,650 were still in hospital.
The Shijiazhuang government has set up a restructuring team headed by a vice-mayor to talk with major players interested in buying Sanlu - Wandashan and Sanyuan.
"We have an open attitude to strategic investors and we hope we can contribute to the rebirth of Sanlu," he said.
Sanlu is one of the largest companies in Shijiazhuang, employing almost 10,000.
The government earlier said 15,870 tons of dairy products contaminated with melamine have been destroyed.
The government also decreed that by June next year, all cows be raised in designated areas which will be monitored by government officials and quality inspectors.
Guo Xinnian, deputy chief of Shijiazhuang police, told China Central Television yesterday that 43 suspects have been arrested in the province, of whom 27 have been charged in court.£¨Source: China Daily£©