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China says fined milk powder companies 'disrupted market order'

Chinese commercial law enforcement personnel inspect milk powder products at a supermarket in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province August 6, 2013.
Chinese commercial law enforcement personnel inspect milk powder products at a supermarket in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province August 6, 2013.

BEIJING (Reuters) - Six milk powder companies fined for price fixing in China set restrictions on minimum prices and used a variety of methods to "disrupt market order" and restrict competition, China's top economic planning body said on Wednesday.

In a statement, the National Development and Reform Commission said the companies fined had proposed modifying their sales policies and training their staff better.

The NDRC handed down a total of $110 million in fines to six companies following an investigation into price fixing and anti-competitive practices by foreign baby formula makers.

The six were Mead Johnson Nutrition Co , Danone , New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra , Abbott Laboratories , Dutch dairy cooperative FrieslandCampina and Hong Kong-listed Biostime International Holdings <1112.HK>.

Biostime was fined 6 percent of its annual sales because its violations were serious, the official Xinhuha news agency reported separately, citing an unidentified NDRC official.

Fonterra, the world's largest dairy exporter, has come under fire from the New Zealand government, farmers and financial regulators for its handling of a food contamination scare that has triggered product recalls and spooked parents from China to Saudi Arabia.

(Reporting by Jonathan Standing; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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