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Links 1 through 10 of 18 by David Bandurski tagged milk

China's Ministry of Health responded in state media today to public concerns that new quality standards for the milk industry in China had been influenced by major milk producers in the country, as some experts have publicly alleged in recent days. The MOH said the new standards had been drafted by 70 experts, including 24 from various universities and government quality control agencies, and 9 representatives from milk companies (Abbot, Mead-Johnson, Danone, Sanyuan, Mengniu, Yili and Guangming). The other 37 "experts" were not specified.

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Chinese social media buzzed with anger today after news media reported that Wu Xianguo (吴显国), one of the most senior officials removed in the midst of the 2008 poisoned milk scandal, was present at an annual meeting of top Hebei Party officials on November 18. Wu is the former top leader of Hebei's Shijiazhuang city and a former member of the provincial standing committee of the CCP. His presence at the meeting suggests he is still active in Hebei politics three years after the milk scandal, which centered on the Shijiazhuang-based milk company Sanlu.

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In a news video posted today, Caixin Online explores the root causes of China's ongoing food safety issues in an interview with Qiu Baochang (邱宝昌), a lawyer with Beijing's Huijia Law Firm and a legal representative for the China Consumers Association. In the refreshingly frank discussion, Qiu runs through a host of problems, including a localized and fragmented inspection system involving myriad agencies. At one point, Qiu says: "In fact, what our laws and regulations stipulate is a [system that is to be] seamlessly jointed together, and at whatever stage a problem occurs should be regulated and supervised by the department at that level. This is your legal obligation, and you should carry out your duty faithfully. But in fact, there might be issues of manpower . . . And there might be lax supervision, or even inspectors working with illegal producers, etcetera. But these problems cannot be used as excuses [for government offices] to avoid responsibility."

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The Beijing News reports today that authorities in Chongqing have uncovered 26 tons of milk powder with high levels of melamine, a potentially toxic chemical often used in the manufacture of plastics. Melamine was at the center of the 2008 milk scandal in China, in which use of the chemical in domestic milk production was found to be endemic, harming at least tens of thousands of children. Just last week, China announced new maximum levels of melamine in food products [http://bit.ly/fUCkRA]. News readers responded to this latest food safety news with despair: "Just tell me," said one, "what on earth we can eat."

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China's official Xinhua News Agency reports today that a tainted milk crisis that killed two children and injured scores of others in Pingliang, Gansu province, was "intentional." Despite a headline that says the milk poisoning has been "confirmed as intentional," the news release reports that suspects "have been apprehended" and the investigation is continuing. The report, citing local authorities, makes no mention of the possible motives for the "intentional" act. And if nitrites were added to the milk by unscrupulous profit-seekers, where were those government safety inspectors? Just posing a question Xinhua probably will not. 

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Southern Metropolis Daily, a commercial spin-off of Guangdong's official Nanfang Daily, continues its coverage of food safety in China today, with a special page dealing with milk safety. The paper reports: "Among 1,176 [milk producing] enterprises [nationwide], 643 passed checks for permit applications, less than 55 percent. 107 enterprises were shut down for overhaul, and 426 failed to pass inspection." The paper also writes in its op-ed section on the hurdles that continue to stand in the way of food safety in China. 

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The Beijing Times, a commercial spin-off of China's official People's Daily, reports today that 70 percent of Chinese they approached in their own survey of shoppers said they avoid domestically-produced milk products out of safety and quality fears. The Beijing Times survey apparently pre-dated recent fears over excessive levels of leather protein in the domestic milk supply (http://wapo.st/gkoILy). In recent months, mainland consumers have thronged to Hong Kong and Macau to purchase milk powder and formula, tightening supplies of products in the two cities.

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In a dubiously sourced news piece yesterday, Beijing Youth Daily reported online rumors that employees of Hong Kong-listed Mengniu Group, one of China's largest dairy product distributors, had been questioned by police about their possible involvement in orchestrating a milk scandal earlier this year surrounding a competitor, Nasdaq-listed SyNutra International. The scandal, which made international news, centered around allegations that SyNutra products contained high hormone levels that were linked to early sexual development in Chinese infants. Shortly after rumors surfaced yesterday, Mengniu issued a statement saying it had never engaged in activities concerning links between Shengyuan products and early sexual development. Shortly after Mengniu's statement, Yili Group, another major player in the industry, alleged that a police investigation had linked Mengniu Group to online attacks against its own products earlier this year. A slugging match is in the works.

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Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday that the State Council has issued a notice introducing stricter regulations for China's milk industry. The regulations call for much stricter management and inspection of milk products at the provincial and city levels and seek to close inspection loopholes such as the leasing and subcontracting of milk production facilities. The regulations also seek to control the production and distribution of the chemical melamine, which was at the center of the 2008 poisonous milk scandal in China and was found this year in recycled milk stocks. Buyers and sellers of melamine will now be required to register with valid identification.

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The Procuratorate Daily reports that authorities in Shanxi province have approved the arrest of 7 suspects allegedly involved in the distribution of poisonous milk powder in December 2009. According to prosecutors in Shanxi, the 7 suspects, all from Jinfulai Milk Products Company Limited in the city of Yangquan (阳泉), recycled 26 tons of out-of-date milk powder in December 2009 before returning it to the market. The milk powder was found to contain high levels of the melamine, the chemical at the center of China's 2008 poisonous milk scandal.

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