Going to China? Avoid the Milk

If you are not familiar with the well-publicized tainted milk in China story, here’s a brief summary. Melamine, a chemical that causes kidney stones, was found in baby milk. Well over 1,000 babies have fallen ill and there have been two reported deaths. The melamine has been found in products manufactured by Sanlu company, but traces have also been found in some of the milk produced by other companies, including a Shanghai-based ice cream maker.

Milk dealers (apparently there is such a thing) have been arrested as part of an operation to get to the bottom of the tainting. Several dealers altered their product to make it seem more valuable before selling it to Sanlu. Now the scandal has taken another twist. It appears that the provincial government in Hebei (where most of the milk originated) was involved in a cover-up effort by Sanlu. Bribery and facilitating the paying off of parents whose children had been stricken by kidney stones are among the charges.

So things are not all roses in China after the success of the Olympics. Luckily, it seems that officials are now on top of this one (too late?). Health inspectors usually give execmptions to larger food producers, visiting them only a fraction of the times they visit smaller operatiions. According to the Dongguan Times, that practice is now on ice and everyone is being inspected. Looks like the worst is over, but, if you’re headed to China anytime soon, you might want to avoid the milk.