News & Current Affairs

September 14, 2008

NZ firm warned of China milk risk

NZ firm warned of China milk risk

Babies suffering kidney stones possibly related to defective baby formula in hospital in Lanzhou, Gansu province, on 9 September

Babies have been suffering kidney stones – rare in young children

A Chinese firm accused of selling milk powder that has made babies unwell was warned in August over the safety of its product, its partner and co-owner says.

New Zealand-based dairy giant Fonterra said it had urged China’s Sanlu Group to recall the tainted powder six weeks before Sanlu took adequate action.

The Fonterra farmers’ co-operative owns a 43% stake in Sanlu.

More than 400 babies in China have been taken ill after using milk contaminated with the industrial chemical, melamine.

Melamine is used to make plastics and is banned from food. Ingesting it can lead to the development of kidney stones.

At least one child has reportedly died in China as a result of using the contaminated milk, which the firm recalled from sale on Thursday.

‘Severe punishment’

In a statement released on Sunday, Fonterra said it had urged Sanlu’s board to recall the milk powder as soon as it learnt of the contamination – on 2 August.

“From the day that we were advised of the product contamination issue in August, Fonterra called for a full public recall of all affected product and we have continued to push for this all along,” the statement said.

Chinese officials have complained that they were only alerted last Monday of the dangers posed by the milk. They said Sanlu’s customers had been complaining about the milk since March.

China’s Health Minister, Gao Qiang, said on Saturday that Sanlu “should shoulder major responsibility for this”.

He said those responsible for the contamination “would be dealt with severely”. Nineteen arrests have so far been made over the scandal, Chinese authorities say.

Some of the tainted milk had been sent to Taiwan but none had been sold to other foreign markets, Mr Gao said.

Melamine has been used by Chinese suppliers of animal feed components to make them appear to have more protein.

It was linked to the formation of kidney stones and kidney failure in pets in the United States last year, leading to thousands of deaths and illnesses.

A fake milk powder scandal in 2004 killed at least 13 babies in China’s eastern province of Anhui.

Investigators found that the milk given to these babies had no nutritional value, and the resulting scandal triggered widespread investigations into food safety.

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2 Comments »

  1. It is not surprised that contaminated milk is on the market in China. I don’t think the government care about the issue of food safety. I went back China to visit my family in Chengdu in August. On 30th of August, I bought one box of “Hechuan Walnut Slice” from French Supermarket Carrefour in Chengdu. On 2nd of September, when I took it to office in US to share it with my co-workers, I found that it was not right—there were many blue—greenish spots on the slices and smelled badly. Those spots are fungi or yeasts.

    Comment by CMCHEN — September 15, 2008 @ 4:09 am

  2. 1.Chinese government are made up of Chinese people too. There are new borns in the families of the government officials too. Sanlu has been a leading diary product producer, thus, at least one generation of young Chinese would have potential weakened kidney functions and related health problems, may include mental function too. So, just like Bush being “slow” on Katrina on first response, Chinese government have also been slow as well. Can you not be extra cautious and base your decisions on hard cold facts before you force Sanlu to recall all products? and start examining all dairy companies’ products? This relative openness to this issue in the public media and from the highest ranking health office in China show that China government is opening up.
    2.A box of “Hechuan Walnut Slice” from Carrefour in Chengdu gone green 4 days later in US: many possibilities such as expired product still sold by Carrefour, should be kept fridged at all times but not, bad contaminated product itself being sold by the manufacturer, just like Sanlu, etc. But I’m sure the government, which are made up of people in China too, don’t want to buy such products too.
    3.There are many special-interest groups out there want to bash the Chinese “Government”, such as CNN, CBC, CTV, and many Dalai Lama friendly leaders such as Bush, Canadian Prime minister Harper, and French president, and celebrity such as Sharon Stones. They all keep forgetting that if the issue is a political issue, then you are not just bashing Chinese government, you are bashing Chinese “people” too !! Most of Chinese people work in the Government there. They are “improving” in the eyes of Western standard. But why the west ALWAYS wish to judge others using their own standards? Are such standards therefore “better”? why not apply such better western standard against many middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia? where women are not allowed to show their faces, nor vote? Oops, they got OIL ! Can’t do that…. Hypocracy lives on in CNN, CBC, CTV, Bush, Harper, EU….

    Comment by yipliu — September 20, 2008 @ 4:42 pm


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