Tag Archives: dairy farms

China Cracks Down On Unsafe Dairies

The improvement in quality standards at China’s dairies have been so patchy since the melamine-tainted infant formula scandal in 2008 that Beijing has moved to close down vast swathes of the industry. Operating licences have been denied for 533 milk producers, nearly half the country’s 1,176 dairies. The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (Aqsiq) had said in March that all diaries would have to reapply for their licences by July. It says that 107 of the 533 who have lost licences will be allowed to reapply once they have improved their quality controls.

Local governments have been sending resident supervisors into all dairy enterprises to enforce health and safety regulations since last October when new rules came into force tightening the controls over the production and marketing of melamine, a toxic industrial chemical used to make plastics, fertilizers and concrete but which can increase milk’s apparent protein value. Dairy safety regulations had already been tightened in 2008 in the immediate aftermath of the tainted milk scandal that killed six babies, sickened more than 300,000 children and all but closed down China’s dairy exports that year.

Yet batches of contaminated milk and milk powder have continued to turn up (2,334 tones of it as of February). Some came from 2008 supplies that should have been destroyed but which got unscrupulously diverted into a sort of dairy black market. However, the newly announced licence revocations suggests that long-standing suspicions that some dairy farmers were continuing to pad out their milk with melamine were well founded.

Aqsiq says it will continue to step up its inspections, on the lookout for both health risks and officials who turn a blind eye to food safety violations, a significant problem at the local level. The newish food safety law has been amended to impose harsher punishments, including the death penalty, in such cases.

Public concern about unsafe food has been intensified recently by the discovery of illegal chemical additives in pork. The latest food safety scare is shrimp soaked in chemicals to give them more weight. Last month the Office of the Food Safety Commission said as well as dairy products and meats, its inspectors are most concerned about the safety of edible oils, health foods, food additives and alcohol. The Party is most concerned that popular distrust of the safety of food supplies may turn into distrust of its right to rule.

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China Readies New Crackdown On Melamine In Milk

Despite the melamine-tainted milk powder scandal that killed six babies, sickened more than 300,000 children and all but closed down China’s dairy exports in 2008, batches of contaminated milk are still turning up, the latest only this month. Some of that is supplies from 2008 that should have been destroyed but which got unscrupulously diverted into a sort of dairy black market. But the suspicion has never gone away that some dairy farmers were continuing to pad out their milk with melamine, a toxic industrial chemical used to make plastics, fertilizers and concrete but which can increase milk’s apparent protein value.

That those suspicions are well founded is supported by proposed new food safety regulations. These tighten the rules on the production and marketing of melamine, including setting up a register of wholesalers to track distribution of the chemical to retailers and getting local governments to send resident supervisors into all dairy enterprises to enforce health and safety regulations, which have already been tightened since 2008. The new rules also call for all dairy enterprises to test their products for melamine before distributing them and for food enterprises to check dairy products they buy.

The new rules come into effect at the end of October. Dairies that break them face being shut down. We also expect an intensifying of the crackdown on any dairy farmer or milk producer found to be using melamine, and the imposition of some exemplary sentences.

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The Return Of Melamine-Tainted Milk

When we first read a headline on the BBC site about arrests over melamine tainted milk we thought we were reading a two-year old web page. But, no, it is dated today and reports the arrests of seven people at a dairy in Shanxi including the general manager for adding the toxic industrial chemical to milk powder. Twenty-six tones of the tainted product from the dairy had been distributed in Hunan and Henan.

New rules on food safety were put in place after the 2008 melamine tainted infant formula scandal which killed six children, made more than 300,000 sick and led to a worldwide recall of dairy products from China. What is unclear at this point is whether this latest incident represents a legacy case involving old powder that should have been destroyed after the 2008 scandal — Sanlu, the company at the heart of the original scandal, had stocks of more than 2,000 tonnes that were sealed before it went bankrupt and some of it has been turning up occasionally  — or whether old habits are dying hard.

Addendum: We are reminded that in July authorities in Qinghai seized 64 tonnes of melamine-adulterated milk powder at a dairy there following the discovery of tainted formula in Gansu. More than half the seized volume had come from Hebei, suggesting it was from stocks that should have been destroyed but had not.

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Melamine-Tainted Infant Formula Reappears

Someone always tries to make a buck out of misery. Melamine-tainted infant formula that was meant to have been destroyed following the food-safety scandal of 2008 that killed six children has been turning up in dairy products across the country. Examples have been found in at least six provinces and in Shanghai.

In one of the latest discoveries, authorities turned up at least 170 tonnes of milk powder in Ningxia. Ningxia Tiantian Dairy is said to have repackaged the tainted powder and sold it to factories in neighboring Inner Mongolia and in Guangdong and Fujian. In Shaanxi, three dairy firm managers have been arrested for allegedly selling 10 tonnes of tainted milk powder to a local diary. Three executives from the Shanghai Panda Dairy Company were prosecuted in December for similar offences.

It is not known how much tainted infant formula may be out there, but Sanlu, the company at the heart of the original scandal, had stocks of more than 2,000 tonnes that were sealed before it went bankrupt. The real problem may lie in stocks spread across the multitude of small dairy farms. Since Feb. 1 food-safety inspectors have been fanning out across the country in an effort to stop the scandal reemerging on a large scale. Exemplary punishments seem likely.

A new food safety law was introduced last year that puts more responsibility on food producers to ensure their products are safe. The growing number of cases in recent weeks is a blow to China’s efforts to restore confidence in its dairy products and food safety regime overall.

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