Police in north China's Hebei Province arrested a suspect who produced the largest-ever amount of "protein powder" with the chemical melamine and caught eight other people who bought the powder, local authorities said on Friday.
Zhang Yujun, a resident of Quzhou County, Hebei Province, produced more than 600 tons of the protein powder, made of melamine and maltodextrin, from September 2007 to August 2008 in a village in Licheng District, Jinan City of eastern Shandong Province, a Hebei provincial public security department official said.
Zhang was caught in Handan City, Hebei.
Zhang first learned the method of producing the fake powder at his dairy farm in Hebei. With the pseudonym of Zhang Haitao, he began to produce the powder on a large scale later in Shandong, the official said.
The melamine, which could lead to urinary tract problems such as kidney stones, was first found in powdered baby milk produced by dairy giant Sanlu Group, based in the provincial capital Shijiazhuang.
Maltodextrin, easily digestible and absorbed as rapidly as glucose, is produced from starch and used as a food additive.
The police caught eight other suspects who bought the powder from Zhang in other parts of Hebei. They included food additive vendors, cattle farm owners and fresh milk purchasers.
Police have arrested 36 in total connected to the country's tainted milk scandal in Hebei, according to Xinhua's count.
The suspects were alleged to have produced, sold or added the chemical melamine into fresh milk to deceive protein tests.