Thursday, October 9, 2008

Acceptable Levels...?

Yesterday five Chinese government agencies, including the Ministry of Health set standards for the amount of melamine in food products in an attempt to allay fears following the contaminated milk powder scandal.

In accordance with the World Health Organization and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, China will only allow 1mg of melamine per kg in infant formula and up to 2.5mg per kg in other dairy products.

This standard was set so that inspectors will be able to quickly identify dairy products which have been deliberately tampered with to manipulate protein levels.

For example, a batch of Sanlu milk powder had as much as 2,563mg per kg. Yikes.

Government officials are trying to reassure the public that it is almost impossible to have zero melamine in dairy products, saying that it's possible some may be leaked from packaging or from the production process.

And while the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine has tried to assure the public that recently tested dairy products show no sign of melamine, people still aren't rushing out to drink cow water.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Affairs Office is trying to blame the hysteria over Chinese milk products on countries that have banned, and is calling for "unbiased, scientific and fair treatment".

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said while China "understands" countries concerns for restricting the imports of Chinese dairy products, Chinese food safety watchdogs have "strengthened" supervision of exported dairy products.

He even had the gall to say: "As a matter of fact, China promptly reported the information to relevant countries as well as international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) when Sanlu milk powder products were found contaminated."

How he can even say the word "promptly" as it doesn't explain the deaths of at least four babies and some 54,000 babies ill from drinking melamine-contaminated milk for months.

Countries outside of China have every right to ban Chinese dairy products for the safety of their own people.

And imposing new standards on dairy products doesn't necessarily mean the quality is going to get better.

Until countries see the Chinese government completely examine the country's dairy industry, take it apart and create an entirely new system with checks and balances in every step of production, they will not budge.

Things obviously have not changed since last year when pets were dying after eating melamine in pet food.

With the global financial crisis looming, China cannot afford to make these disasterous mistakes domestically or internationally.

It's time China started thinking more long-term if it wants to build and be proud of its "home-grown" brands.

Otherwise everyone's trust in Chinese-made products will continue to be a joke.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am reminded of an earlier post when you said that it brings into question, the safety of other imported chinese goods. although I haven't stopped eating imported chinese goods, it's scary how many foodstuffs are imported. in canada, almost all fresh garlicis imported from China. And chinese noodles, and crackers and sauces. You wonder what's left to buy if you're trying to avoid chinese products completely.