Around June 2004, newspaper reported cases of babies died of drinking milk powder with zero nutritious ingredients in Anhui Province. Before their death, these babies had distinctive appearance of swollen heads due to water intoxication. They were referred to as the Big Head Babies. Sanlu Dairy was named as one of the suppliers who produced the killer milk. In a PR stun and with help from higher up (the acting minister of the Health Department, Mr. Gao Qiang), Sanlu was removed from the list.
Amid public outcry after the breakout of the extend of the Big Head Babies scandal, the Chinese government started testing the protein level contained in milk powder products, which, in turn, trigger the melamine scandal.
To answer questions from readers, the techniques of adding melamine was introduced in 2004, and peaked in 2007, when Sanlu was awarded a national science progress award, the highest national award in science. The only dairy related technique to be awarded in the 30 years history of the national top science award.