Monday, February 8, 2010

Lessons Not Learned

It is appalling to find out that the tainted milk scandal continues a year and a half after it was first reported in the fall of 2008.

Investigators are discovering now that milk producers took back powdered milk laced with melamine from store shelves, but then put it back on the market or re-purposed it into things like popsicles.

The Associated Press is reporting that 170 tons of tainted milk powder were found in places like Shanghai, as well as Shaanxi, Shandong, Liaoning, Guizhou, Jilin and Hebei provinces in a 10-day crackdown campaign. China's Health Ministry says at least five companies are suspected of reselling the tainted milk that should have been destroyed.

However, the crackdown ends on Wednesday, which means companies that have hidden these melamine-laced milk products could put them back on the shelves again. What good does a 10-day campaign do? Everyone knows it's all for show.

Meanwhile this has again led to a further erosion in confidence not only in the country's food products, but also the government's ability to protect its own people from dangerous products that are domestically made. It would have been all too easy to blame other countries for this mess, but when it's an inside job, it only reveals the failures in the government's food safety program, especially after it pledged to streamline processes to make sure this would not happen again.

Why didn't the government do more thorough investigations? Understandably there are thousands of milk producers, most of them small, but a strict system of inspection needs to be put in place to prevent bad milk from reaching the general public. It's reported that many of these small milk producers do not have the technology to test for melamine, so why doesn't the government subsidize the equipment or at least conduct their own inspections on a very regular basis. This also shows the government's inability to get the job done properly, and only makes its citizens more skeptical of officials, wondering if they are acting in the public's interests.

And what about the milk producers themselves -- don't they even care about their own consumers? Obviously it shows profits are more important than actually giving consumers a good product. When you have people intentionally hurting or even killing others for money, it just shows morals have gone out the window. And it seems shocking that the government isn't earnest enough to want to solve this problem once and for all, as most of the people who drink these milk products are babies and children.

This has obviously led to a spike in imported milk products, driving up demand and prices. The government is considering limiting the amount of imported milk powder, as it's hurting domestic dairy companies.

China is desperate to build its own brand, to look like it is an innovative leader, and through this become a legitimate world power.

But how can it even do this when proper standards and quality control mechanisms are not in place or not even enforced. Why not try to make good quality products first before trying to invent new ones? That way you'd have more buy-in from your own people that yes, China is great.

1 comment:

ks said...

the biggest damage is china"s reputation as a country of fakes in the world scene. it will take generations and extra efforts to repair.