Plant's baby formula called 'filthy'



Louie Gilot
El Paso Times

An El Paso manufacturer allegedly relabeled animal feed containing dirt and flies as baby formula and shipped it to be sold in Mexico.

The Texas attorney general filed a lawsuit against Milky Way Traders Inc., of 115 Montoya Lane in El Paso, for allegedly buying dried milk intended for use as animal feed only, mixing and packaging it "under filthy conditions," and selling the product as infant formula to Mexican food manufacturers, court documents read.

"We are committed to protecting the health and safety of Texas children, and when a Texas company acts recklessly so as to endanger infants of families in Mexico we will take prompt action to stop it," Attorney General Greg Abbott said in a written statement released Monday.

Officials with the Texas Department of State Health Services said the contaminated formula not only deprives babies of needed nutrients but can also make them sick with bacterial infections.

Calls to Milky Way Traders were not returned Monday.

Officials said that at least 60,000 pounds of the contaminated formula made its way to eight or nine distributors in Mexico, including one in Obregon and one in Cuauhtémoc in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, which is hours from Juárez.

But since Milky Way Traders had been in existence for nine years without a license and without a single recorded health inspection, there could be more tainted formula circulating, health officials said.

Mexican health officials have been warned and are reportedly investigating whether babies were exposed to the product, officials said.

The company and its owner, Yvon Belliard, face fines of $25,000 per day the alleged offense occurred. In addition, the company could be fined $25,000 for operating without a license, health officials said.

A hearing in the case is expected within two weeks.

Health inspectors visited the company's two warehouses in October and found drums of formula labeled "For use in domestic animals only!"

They also seized an invoice for one truck shipment to Mexico of 22 pallets of the formula, valued at about $660,000.

The company, with 20 to 25 employees, reported annual revenues of about $15 million, officials with the attorney general's office said.

In October, the health department issued a detention order stopping the company from moving the product, but later found that it had been violated and that the company had continued shipping the formula, health officials said.

Louie Gilot may be reached at lgilot@elpasotimes.com, 546-6131.; For more information: www.oag.state.tx.us








"Governor, if I had foreseen the use those people (the U.S.) designed to make of their victory, there would have been no surrender at Appomattox Courthouse; no sir, not by me. Had I foreseen these results of subjugation, I would have preferred to die at Appomattox with my brave men, my sword in this right hand."

General Robert E. Lee to Governor Stockdale of Texas




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