The government has ordered Sanlu Group, a dairy producer partly owned by New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra Co-operative Group, to halt production after a preliminary investigation found its products were responsible.
Relevant authorities have also ordered stopping sales of all Sanlu brand baby milk powder on the market and tightening checks on feedstuff, raw milk, and the processing, wholesale and sale links.
"This is a severe food safety accident," Gao Qiang, Vice-Minister of Health, told a news conference, on Saturday.
Chinese Police have detained 19 suspects and questioned 78 people in the investigation of the baby milk powder contamination case, said Gao.
Sanlu, based in Shijiangzhuang, capital city of Hebei, admitted that its baby formula had been contaminated with melamine, a toxin which could lead to kidney stones.
"Sanlu Group should take a large part of responsibility in the case," said Gao.
Sanlu Group had got complaints about its baby milk powder in March and then confirmed the problems through its own investigation, according to the news conference. It also took actions to recall some of these products. However, for a long time after that the group didn't report it to the government neither did it reveal the information to the public.