Home > Uncategorized > Food for None: Milk Powder and Rice Scandals

Food for None: Milk Powder and Rice Scandals

"I hate them, I hate them," said Qu Chunli. "They’re killing our children."

Her baby was fed Sanlu brand milk powder for the last eight months. In the hospital, he was diagnosed to have stones in his urinary tract, much to the family’s outrage (NPR).

The Chinese are angry.

And understandably so, 22 diary producers (Sanlu Group, Mengniu, Yili and Yashili etc) had cut low-protein milk powder with Melamine – a chemical used in plastics – to boost its perceived protein value. Ingested Melamine causes kidney stones and leads to kidney failure (USNews FAQ).

So far 18 people have been arrested, one city mayor sacked, diary products were recalled, investigators dispatched (Washington Post), and inspection exemptions granted to food producers were revoked (Xinhua Net).

Laudable but too late.

6,200 babies have kidney problems, 1,300 warded, 4 died (PressTV, Tehran), and hospitals are visited by hordes of overwrought families whose babies – precious because each family can only have one – are checked, scanned, prodded, probed and tested for kidney stones and Melamine poisoning. Also, consumers have lost confidence in Chinese food products. Starbucks pulled all milk products from their menu (Yahoo News), Singapore, Malaysia, Burma, Hong Kong and Japan banned imports of Chinese milk products (Voice of America) and foreign milk producers seize the opportunity to carve up and corner the Chinese milk powder market (Reuters).

As the Chinese grapple with the health and economic fallout from the milk powder scandal, Japan has its own food scandal. This time – yes, it’s not the first time – a rice scandal.

Three small companies (Mikasa Foods, Ohta Industry and Asai Ltd) had cheaply bought pesticides- and mould-tainted rice from the government before selling them at higher prices to other food producers. The rice was used to feed patients and converted into rice wine (Flex News). The companies have apologised and Mikasa’s president committed suicide (Flex News) – noble but pointless.

As much as the press, victims and "socially-conscious" folk rant and rave over these scandals, it will happen again. And again. And again.

Guess why.


Need I say more?

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