China's Premier Wen Jiabao said his government was partly to blame for the tainted milk scandal that has killed four infants and sickened 53,000 throughout the country.
In an interview with a US magazine, Wen said although contamination of milk had occurred at dairy companies in China, the government was responsible for monitoring the industry at the heart of the crisis.
"We feel that although problems occurred at companies, the government also bears responsibility, particularly in the area of monitoring," Wen told Science Magazine in an interview also posted on the central government's website Saturday.
"The important steps in the dairy industry -- production of raw milk, collection, transport, processing, formulation and manufactured goods -- all need to have clear standards and testing requirements," he said.
The scandal erupted when melamine, an industrial chemical normally used to make plastic, was discovered in Chinese-made dairy products, including milk powder, liquid milk and yoghurt.
The chemical was added to watered-down milk to make it appear higher in protein.
The scandal has hit China's dairy industry hard, and continues to escalate around the world as a growing number of multinationals and countries recall made-in-China milk products.