State media reported that Zhang Yujun received the death penalty for endangering public safety and Geng Jinping was killed for producing and selling toxic food. Chinese officials said the pair were the only ones who had been executed over the contamination incidents, although 19 other people have also been jailed.
An appellate court in the northern city of Shijiazhuang upheld the original death sentences in March. A final approval was also required from the Supreme People’s Court in Beijing to carry out the executions – most of which are done by lethal injection.
Food safety scandal
The case was one of China's worst-ever food safety scandals, involving tainting of infant formula with the industrial chemical melamine, which can cause kidney stones and kidney failure. Melamine, used in the manufacture of plastics, was cut into milk powder to boost protein levels and increase profits of suppliers.
Zhang and Geng had both been found guilty of producing and selling more than 770 and 900 tonnes respectively of the counterfeit powder laced with melamine between July 2007 and August 2008. Much of this was sold to the now bankrupt Sanlou Group, the company at the centre of the scandal.
In January, 2009, 21 people were convicted for their role in the scandal – including Sanlu’s general manager Tian Wenhua who received a life sentence after pleading guilty. Three other executives from the company were also jailed for between five and 15 years.