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September 17, 2008

Tainted Chinese Baby Formula Kills Third Baby

Once again, food products manufactured in China are proving to be faulty. Over six thousand babies are sick from baby formula that came from Mengniu Diary Group, the largest producer of milk in China. Three batches of formula that were made in January were tested and found to be contaminated with melamine, the same chemical that was found in contaminated pet food last year. The pet food recall was massive, leaving many pet owners with sick or fatally ill pets.

Melamine is a chemical that should not be added to food products. However, some Chinese suppliers put it in food items to make them seem more protein rich. Melamine has nitrogen in it and bulk food ingredients should be tested for levels of nitrogen. The babies that had the milk are suffering from malnutrition, kidney stones and acute renal failure.

Two brothers were arrested by Chinese officials on Monday. They are said to have supplied three tons of milk every day to the Sanlu Group. The milk was watered down so that it would fool quality checks. If the brothers are convicted they could face death.

The brothers are suspected of tainting the milk so that they could recover lost profits from when the factory rejected milk shipments. Another 19 people have been detained for questioning.

Of China’s 175 baby milk powder production companies, 66 have already stopped production. Samples of remaining milk is being tested at factories. Concerned parents started lining up at 5 in the morning in Hebei Province to have their babies checked out. Melamine ingestion can cause kidney stones, urinary tract ulcers and eye and skin irritation.

Unfortunately China is no stranger to milk contaminations. In 2004 13 infants died after ingesting powdered milk that had little to no nutritional value. The pet food scandal was last as was the massive toy recall. What is going on in China and is it safe to use products that come out of there?

Well, the list of recalls and unsafe products does not stop there. Last October toys made in China were pulled off of shelves after finding that they had too much lead in them. Last November, Aqua Dots, a popular toy item was recalled after it was found that it was contaminated with a powerful date rape drug if swallowed. In February of this year, a candy distributor had to pull Pokemon-brand Valentine lollipops off of store shelves after bits of metal were found them. These instances make trusting Chinese products of any kind much more difficult.

This time the victims are innocent babies. The people that are responsible for the tainting of this milk had to know that melamine was a dangerous chemical. After the pet food scandal it is practically common knowledge. That means that these brothers, and whoever else was involved, maliciously put this chemical in the baby formula. If it kills pets it can also kill humans, especially innocent babies.

Events in China continue to make the world question how advanced the country truly is. After a massive earthquake struck and toppled cheaply built school houses and food and product recalls continue to go out, it is clear that China has a long way to go when it comes to gaining the trust of the rest of the world.

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