英伦广角British Vision(126):中国奶粉事件

China baby milk scare scandal

Chinese officials have ordered widespread checks on dairy products and a recall of tainted items after thousands of babies became ill. Liz Kennedy reports.

For more than a week, worried parents have crowded hospitals across the country, all hoping that urgent medical treatment will be enough to overcome the tainted milk that’s in their child's system. While thousands of babies have become sick, thousands more are still at risk, raising fears that the death toll could rise as more cases are diagnosed.

The scandal first emerged last week when the Sanlu Group, China’s biggest baby milk maker, announced that some babies had developed kidney stones and complications after drinking milk made from powder tainted with melamine. As cases of contamination soared, the Chinese government took immediate action. And late on Friday, officials said that all children who’d consumed tainted milk would be given free treatment.

The position that China now finds itself in is a result of unscrupulous farmers and negligent food companies. Tests show that in an attempt to cut costs, the nitrogen-rich compound melamine was added to water down milk in order to pass quality inspections. Contamination was thought to be restricted to powdered baby milk. But officials have confirmed that 10% of liquid milk from three of China’s dairies was also tainted with melamine. The companies have been named as Mengniu Dairy Group, Yili Industrial Group and Bright Dairy.

With uncertainty about China’s milk production growing by the day, Malaysia has now joined neighboring Singapore in the ban of all Chinese milk imports. And as the European Union and the US demanded an explanation, Chinese quality officials have been trying to regain consumer confidence, saying that most milk was safe. With a string of food scares in recent years, it may take some time to restore their trust. Liz Kennedy, Reuters.

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