China has found another 170 tons of tainted milk powder in an emergency crackdown that has made it increasingly clear many products discovered in the country’s 2008 milk scandal were repackaged for sale instead of being destroyed. The Chinese government promised to overhaul its approach to food safety after hundreds of thousands of children in that scandal were sickened by milk products tainted with an industrial chemical. At least six children died. But it now appears that the promise will be challenged. Tainted milk products have recently emerged in China’s largest city, Shanghai, and in the provinces of Shaanxi, Shandong, Liaoning, Guizhou, Jilin and Hebei. China’s ten-day emergency crackdown on the products was set to end on February 10th. Thus far, the deadline – to my knowledge – hasn’t been extended.
In the latest discovery, officials recalled more than 170 tons of milk powder tainted by the industrial chemical melamine and closed two dairy companies in the northern region of Ningxia. Officials seized 72 tons of the powder, but were still looking for the rest. The rest had been repackaged by the Ningxia Tiantian Dairy Co. Ltd. and sold to factories in the neighboring region of Inner Mongolia and the bustling southern provinces of Guangdong and Fujian. Dairy suppliers in the past have been accused of adding melamine, which is high in nitrogen, to make milk appear protein-rich in quality tests.
It appears from media reports in China that tainted powder should have been destroyed after the 2008 scandal broke. The 2008 milk scandal was China’s worst food safety crisis in years. Chinese officials knew tracking and getting rid of the tainted products would be difficult, but the government didn’t promise to destroy seized products itself. Instead, it issued guidelines on how to destroy the tainted products, suggesting they be burned in incinerators or buried in landfills. This obviously has not worked very well. It’s now being reported that more than one in ten Chinese children, sickened by contaminated milk, showed signs of kidney damage six months later. Consumers – as well as the federal government – should continue to be wary of consumer products made in China.
Source: Associated Press
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