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    Reporters Without Borders said in it’s 2005 special report titled “Xinhua: the world’s biggest propaganda agency”, that “Xinhua remains the voice of the sole party”, “particularly during the SARS epidemic, Xinhua has for last few months been putting out news reports embarrassing to the government, but they are designed to fool the international community, since they are not published in Chinese.”
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Archive for the ‘Tainted Products’ Category

Melamine found in China Animal Feed

Posted by Author on November 6, 2008


NTDTV, 04 Nov 2008-

ZHANG:
After a massive inspection of animal feed manufacturers, China’s Agricultural Ministry has confiscated and destroyed over 36 hundred tons of melamine-contaminated feed.

The Ministry shut down 238 animal feed producers for illegal activity, says China’s state-run media.

CCN reports that an investigation published in the state-run Nanfang Daily revealed that adding melamine to animal feed has become an “open secret.” It says the aquatic farming industry in China started using melamine to boost protein level readings five years ago, and it’s spread to other industries since then.

Despite the Chinese regime’s reassurance that the tainted animal feed problem is marginal, there is a growing concern among global companies about melamine in China’s exports.

Several weeks ago, the contaminant was found in exported biscuits and candy, and most recently in eggs. Melamine-contaminated milk has caused at least four infant deaths and sickened over 50 thousand children in China.

– NTDTV: Inspectors Discover Melamine in Animal Feed

Posted in Business, China, Company, Economy, Health, Law, Life, Made in China, medical, News, Pet food, products, Tainted Products, World | Comments Off on Melamine found in China Animal Feed

Alarming: Tainted Food = Terrorism ?

Posted by Author on November 2, 2008


Louis Klarevas, Forbes, 10.25.08-

With Halloween around the corner, think about what would happen if even a tiny portion of the candy distributed to trick-or-treaters was tainted. How many children would get sick? How many might even die?

Such fears are not unfounded, given the recent scandal involving nearly two dozen Chinese dairies that added toxic levels of melamine to milk products to artificially increase their protein levels. To date, the tainted milk has sickened over 50,000 children in China, killing four of them.

When people contemplate grave global threats, consumer goods don’t usually enter the radar. In this era of unshakable globalization, however, the lack of adequate regulation of international trade might compromise security as much as, if not more than, terrorism.

In late September, Cadbury (nyse: CBY – news – people ) announced that a recall of chocolates produced in China, which are sold only in Asia’s Pacific region, because they might contain contaminated milk powder. The sale of Oreos, M&Ms and Snickers in Indonesia–manufactured using Chinese milk products as well–has also been suspended after tests raised concerns.

But the threat is hardly limited to Asia. The hazard is one of global reach, leading to recalls and bans in 16 countries so far, including the U.S., where Mr. Brown powdered drinks and White Rabbit candies, both imported from China, tested positive for melamine.

Tainted goods can kill–and not just a few people, but thousands. That makes quality control a national security issue.

Allow me to put it in perspective. In the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 people died. Now take the recent crisis involving contaminated the blood thinner heparin. Earlier this year, hundreds of heparin consumers fell ill worldwide; over 80 died in the U.S. alone.

It turns out that over 450,000 Americans ingest the drug regularly as part of their dialysis regimen. There are tens of thousands more Americans who take heparin for other reasons. Imagine if just 1% of these patients died from contaminated heparin. That would translate into somewhere between 5,000 and 6,000 deaths, twice the Sept. 11 death toll. And that’s Americans only. How many more would have died in other countries?

Sound alarmist? Perhaps. But the numerous recent incidents show quality control is lacking in the production of potentially harmful goods–often with deadly consequences. Let’s not forget the frozen dumplings containing pesticide that killed 10 people in Japan, and the cough syrup that contained a chemical used in antifreeze, which killed 115 people in Panama.

The products on this list, as it turns out, are exclusive to China. Yet as more large-scale labor markets compete for their share of international trade, the incentives to cut corners will increase and the temptation to overlook hazardous goods might become a more common occurrence.

As the case of China shows, developing countries–motivated by greed and a desire to increase market share–often fail to police their domestic corporations effectively. Even China’s imposition of maximum melamine limits on food products hardly goes beyond the cosmetic. As such, the onus falls on importing states and international organizations to keep us safe. Only well-coordinated and vigilant quality control can abate the dangers inherent in international trade……. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in China, Economy, Food, Health, Life, Made in China, News, products, Social, Tainted Products, Trade, USA, World | Comments Off on Alarming: Tainted Food = Terrorism ?

China’s melamine scandal continues

Posted by Author on November 2, 2008


By Sachin Seth, The Blast Magazine, Nov. 1, 2008-

It seems like it’ll never end.  China’s ongoing melamine investigation has widened to animal feeding supplies, where reports of melamine-contaminated eggs have surfaced.

According to the International Herald Tribune, the melamine eggs has been reported in three different Chinese provinces.  Melamine-tainted products have been blamed for kidney stones and renal failure in infants.

This hurts China’s struggling agriculture industry even more.  It has been crippled ever since the melamine milk outbreak that affected more than 50,000 children, killing at least four.

People everywhere are frantic, concerned about Chinese foods imported directly from China.  Parents in the U.S. are scared that Halloween candy imported from China could be contaminated, IHT reports.

Various cities around the world are calling for further inspection of agricultural food items imported from China.

Honestly, right now you can’t be too careful.  A toxic chemical responsible for tens of thousands of infant sicknesses is terrifying, and inspecting all Chinese agricultural products in further detail is the right move……. (more)

Posted in China, Economy, Food, Health, Life, News, Politics, products, Tainted Products, World | Comments Off on China’s melamine scandal continues

China Egg Farmers Desperate As Melamine Crisis Worsens, Over 10,000 Chickens Slaughtered Everyday

Posted by Author on November 2, 2008


The Epoch Times,  Oct 31, 2008-

Since Hong Kong detected melamine in Chinese eggs on October 26, egg farmers in northern China’s Dingxing county, Baoding city have been increasingly anxious about their livelihoods.

In the past five days, the egg wholesale price has not been over US88 cents per kilogram, and in Zhongtaoshen village, the 120 egg farmers have had to slaughter over 10,000 chickens everyday, according to wholesaler, Mr Liao’s estimation.

According to the Jinghua Times report, most of the local eggs are sold to Beijing and Guangdong, and wholesalers have already reported that all eggs will be rejected if there is not a “No Melamine” certificate attached.

Facing cash flow pressure, many farmers have had to sell their chickens to slaughterhouses at prices as low as US$1.20 per kilogram.

Egg farmer Lu Shuanxi from Zhongtao Shenyi village recently sold 1,000 chickens to the slaughter house for money to buy several more days chicken feed for the rest of his 5,000 chickens.

On October 27 and 28, no one came to his village to buy eggs, and on October 29, the egg price offered by wholesalers was only US64 cents per kilogram.

According to one Zhongtao Shenyi village committee staff member, there are few refrigeration facilities in the area, and the first batch of eggs produced after October 26 is expected to expire in 9 days.

However, those farmers are also victims, as recent media reports indicate that chicken feed is actually the source of the melamine in the eggs. The use of melamine is an open secret in the animal feed industry in China, which initially started in aquaculture farming, and spread to poultry and livestock farms.

Internet reports from mainland China argue that most of the melamine comes from chemical plant waste.

The Epochtimes

Posted in Beijing, China, Economy, Food, Health, Hebei, Life, Made in China, News, North China, People, products, Rural, Social, Tainted Products, World | Comments Off on China Egg Farmers Desperate As Melamine Crisis Worsens, Over 10,000 Chickens Slaughtered Everyday

Watch Out Melamine For Children’s Halloween Candies From China

Posted by Author on November 2, 2008


by Jane Akre, The Injury Board, USA, Thursday, October 30, 2008-

Consumers might want to check their children’s candies this Halloween following an alert from Canada about melamine-tainted chocolates from China.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an alert for some candy and foods made in China and says it is taking aggressive action to inspect food, candy and other imports from China. (see list below)

However, this past summer FDA inspectors had little luck in tracking down the source of salmonella and E. coli contaminations due to a shortage of inspectors.

Some candy made by Chinese makers and distributed through Costco in Canada has been found to contain melamine, among them, Sherwood’s Milk Chocolate Pirate’s Gold Coins made in China.

On October 8, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, CFIA issued a warning for “The public not to consume, distribute, or sell the Sherwood Brands Pirate’s Gold Milk Chocolate Coins described below. This product is being recalled due to positive test results for melamine conducted by the CFIA.”

In fact, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued a warning about the chocolate coins, “sold in 840g containers containing 240 pieces per container bearing UPC 0 36077 11240 7 and lot code 1928S1.”

“This product is sold nationally through Costco stores and may also have been sold in bulk packages or as individual pieces at various dollar and bulk stores across Canada.”

Sherwood Brands, based in Rockville, Maryland, also makes lollipops, bubble gum and other confections made in China which say “may contain milk”.  The company has not returned media calls.

Not recalling the Sherwood candy has angered Food & Water Watch. The nonprofit group lobbyist, Tony Corbo told the Akron Beacon Journal, “We don’t think the FDA has acted quickly enough.”

The National Confectioners Association reports that less than one percent of candies sold in the U.S. are imported from China.

Naturally, candy makers in the U.S. are nervous and many have posted reassuring statements. Hershey’s says the company has “never purchased any milk ingredients from China” in a recorded message.

Mars says it has tested its Snickers and M&M’s in Indonesia and found them free of melamine.

The FDA says it has broadened its domestic and import sampling and testing of milk-derived ingredients and finished foods with milk from Chinese sources.

The FDA “has recommended that consumers not consume certain products because of possible contamination with melamine.”   See the list below.

Thousands of Chinese children have been injured from the industrial chemical, melamine, which was folded into milk that makes baby formula to artificially inflate the protein count.  Chronic exposure can lead to kidney failure, reproductive damage, bladder or kidney stones.

In the U.S., there is no known threat to infant formula since the U.S. does not import formula from China.

The exception might be among members of the Asian communities in the U.S. even though the FDA says no Chinese manufacturer of infant formula has met the requirements to sell in the U.S.

Melamine has been found not just in milk powder, but also in pet food which led to the deaths of hundreds of U.S. animals.

On the internet, Mike Mozart, calls himself a product designer who reviews development in the toy industry.  He says as much as 20 million pounds of food manufactured in China were imported into the U.S. this year. He claims he’s found candy manufactured in China with milk powder widely being sold in US stores and has produced a video on Youtube.

(When in doubt of internet rumors check out the web site snopes.com and  truthorfiction.com.)

The FDA is advising consumers not to consume the following products because of possible melamine contamination:

  • Koala’s March Crème filled Cookies
  • YILI Brand Sour Milk Drink
  • YILI Brand Pure Milk Drink
  • Blue Cat Flavored Drinks
  • White Rabbit Candies
  • Mr. Brown Mandehling Blend Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
  • Mr. Brown Arabica Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
  • Mr. Brown Blue Mountain Blend Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
  • Mr. Brown Caramel Macchiato Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
  • Mr. Brown French Vanilla Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
  • Mr. Brown Mandheling Blend instant Coffee (2-in-1)
  • Mr. Brown Milk Tea (3-in-1)
  • Infant formula manufactured in China

The Injury Board

Posted in China, Economy, Food, Health, Law, Life, Made in China, medical, News, products, Tainted Products, Trade, World | Comments Off on Watch Out Melamine For Children’s Halloween Candies From China

Taiwan bans China protein powder due to melamine

Posted by Author on October 30, 2008


Reuters, Wed Oct 29, 2008-

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan has banned protein powder from China after tests found contamination, adding to a list of Chinese products that the island has halted amid a tainted milk powder scandal, local media said on Wednesday.

The Taiwan Department of Health asked importers to recall and quit shipping protein powder, 393 tonnes of which had come from China this year to date, after tests turned up melamine in nearly half random samples, media and health authorities said.

“Our department has demanded that importers immediately recall this product and asked all local health bureaux to seal the imports for safekeeping,” the department said in a statement.

Protein powder, a dietary supplement, is the latest China food import to be banned in Taiwan since last month. Dairy products, ammonium bicarbonate and a host of packaged food items have also been halted due to melamine fears.

In China, at least four children have died and tens of thousands fallen ill with kidney stones amid the melamine scandal, the latest in a series of health scares to sully the “made in China” label.

Chinese-made products have been recalled in countries throughout the world due to melamine contamination fears. The compound is often added to cheat nutrition tests.

China has claimed sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. Beijing has vowed to bring the island back under mainland rule, by force if necessary.

Reuters

Posted in Asia, China, Economy, Food, Health, Life, Made in China, News, products, Social, Tainted Products, Taiwan, World | 1 Comment »

Hong Kong Finds Melamine In Imported China Eggs

Posted by Author on October 29, 2008


The Epoch Times, Oct 27, 2008  –

Hong Kong’s Center for Food Safety recently announced that the melamine content in fresh eggs imported from mainland China has exceeded safety standards.

Last Friday, the Center for Food Safety confirmed the high concentration of melamine in eggs imported from the Dalian Hanwei Enterprise Group. The eggs were found 4.7 parts per million of melamine, compared with the 2.5 ppm safety limit.

The Center for Food Safety has requested that all supermarkets stop selling and importing eggs from the Dalian distributor. The same high melamine concentrations from the Dalian importer have also been found in eggs sold in Japan and other Southeast Asian countries.

Hong Kong Secretary for Food and Health York Chow said on Sunday that 60 percent of the eggs sold in Hong Kong are imported from mainland China—Hong Kong consumes an average of 1.6 billion eggs each year, or about 230 eggs per person.

Due to the area’s high egg consumption, the center will conduct melamine tests on eggs imported from mainland China in the next week. They plan to announce their findings as soon as they’re available.

“Since we have found melamine in eggs, we will surely exam chickens,” explained Chow. “Livestock feed might have been tainted by melamine, so officials will examine all meat and poultry imported from mainland China and pay special attention to animal organs, such as chicken kidneys and pork kidneys.”

Chen Jingming, a chicken farmer and livestock nutrition expert said that the cost for yellow bean powder, a main component of livestock feed, has shot up about 70 percent in the past year. Due to rocketing feed costs, he believes that some suppliers have illegally added melamine into their feed mixture to save money.

Chen added that since eggs have been found to be contaminated, food products containing eggs and other meat products imported from China might also have been tainted.

Chen emphasized that the authorities should make even stricter standards for safe levels of melamine in foods. He said they should not allow any trace of the contaminant in the food supply to prevent a potential panic from the public.

– The Epochtimes

Posted in China, Economy, Food, Hong kong, Life, Made in China, News, products, Social, Tainted Products, Trade, World | 1 Comment »

China TV Pulls Talk Show Discussing Toxic Milk Scandal

Posted by Author on October 21, 2008


By Qiao Long, Radio Free Asia, Via The Epochtimes, Oct 17, 2008 –

China’s state-run Chinese Central Television (CCTV) pulled a talk show discussing the recent milk scandal on October 12 allegedly under the order of the Central Propaganda Department.

China’s toxic milk has become a great embarrassment for China’s milk manufacturers. Three of the country’s top milk manufacturers: Yili, Mengniu, and Guangming were set to give a public apology in a show on Chinese Central Television (CCTV) last Sunday evening. But many were disappointed to find out the show switched to a different topic.

The CCTV’s talk-show program, Conversation, announced an episode, titled “The Truth Behind the Milk,” to be broadcasted at 10 p.m., October 12, but another episode aired in its place. On the following Monday morning, CCTV explained that an equipment failure prevented the intended milk broadcast, but insiders say that Conversation received an order on Sunday afternoon to cut the program. Other media close to Conversation also received notice of this programming change.

Radio Free Asia (RFA) called CCTV Channel 2 and the Conversation studio, but no one answered. According to Beijing Evening newspaper, there was no equipment failure. They say such an issue is unlikely to happen, especially since CCTV had already announced the show that morning.

“The regime doesn’t want media to talk too much about this incident,” says Ma Xiaoming, a former reporter at the Sha’anxi Provincial Televison Station. “There is a limit on how much and how deep the incident can be reported. If the report involves other things beyond the tolerance of the regime, then that’s not allowed.”

A reporter from Hong Kong’s Ming Pao newspaper, revealed even greater detail of the incident. He noted that during the filming of “The Truth Behind the Milk” show, the host, reporters, experts and audience raised too many sensitive questions. The show’s recorded length was three hours but the final edit was chopped down to less than half an hour. “Many heated discussions were deleted,” he noted.  Still, even after careful editing, the show was not able to debut on CCTV’s Channel 2. Station protocol does not usually allow a pre-arranged program to be pulled out of schedule one hour before broadcast, unless it is intervened by an overriding power. So who was that power?

“Only the government’s Central Propaganda Department has the absolute power to stop CCTV programming,” explained Ma.

One Internet user on the Sohu Forum (www.sohu.com) said that CCTV should make an apology since it deprived viewers of the right to know important information concerning public health and well being.

In fact, on the afternoon on October 11, authorities issued a document requiring retailers to remove all brands of milk powder and liquid milk from shelves with production dates earlier than September 14. The document was labeled as “urgent” and was issued by the relevant ministry, with very firm language such as “must,” “immediately” and “completely.”

Before that, the three giants of the milk industry and other milk manufacturers were heavily promoting the virtues of “reliable milk.” As for the China milk scandal, Mr. Ma thinks those industries involved should confess their crimes rather than make apologies. “It is not enough for these factories to make apologies. They are guilty,” he said.

During the scandal, newspapers and hospitals only complicated the story, siding with the propaganda arm of the regime to protect industry interests. In Anhui Province, a parent of a baby victimized by the tainted milk said his child had been previously diagnosed with kidney stones. However, when the hospital phoned him for the current test results, they said they failed to find any kidney stones. “I doubt whether they lied to us,” he said. “In another hospital my baby was diagnosed with kidney stones again. In Yantan city in Shandong Province, the hospital even destroyed laboratory test reports in order to cover the truth.”

With hope continuing to fade, parents who have been waiting for test results for more than a month are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the government, and have been more outspoken in their criticism. A parent from Anhui Province points out that these authorities have only protected the industries, not the victims. “Apparently the government intended to sacrifice these people in order to protect the industries,” he said. “They are trying to suppress the scandal, so we should continue to speak out about it. We naturally seek justice, but it is impossible for us to do so through the law. Right now all we can do is to expose the scandal through the media.”

The Epochtimes

Posted in censorship, China, Economy, Health, Made in China, Media, News, Politics, products, Social, Tainted Products, TV / film | Comments Off on China TV Pulls Talk Show Discussing Toxic Milk Scandal

Malaysia Bans China Biscuits for Too Much Melamine

Posted by Author on October 17, 2008


The Star,Malaysia, October 17, 2008-

PUTRAJAYA: Eighteen types of biscuits bearing the Khong Guan and Khian Guan brands have been found to contain excessive levels of melamine.

Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said the contamination is from the raising agent ammonium bicarbonate from China which was used to produce the biscuits.

As a result, Liow said, ammonium bicarbonate from China was now banned. Ammonium bicarbonate from other countries would be taken for tests.

“Results from our tests found that the melamine level in the ammonium carbonate used for Khong Guan and Khian Guan biscuits is 33.4ppm and 508ppm respectively,” he told a press conference on Thursday.

The permissible level of melamine is 2.5 parts per million (ppm).

He said 18 out of 47 products had been found with excessive levels of melamine and the manufacturer has been instructed to recall them.

“We have also requested that they voluntarily recall the rest of their products,” he said.

“All factories that use ammonium bicarbonate from China will have their products tested. We will test all biscuits in the country,” he said.

Earlier, the ministry had found Ego White Rabbit Creamy Candy and Taro brand biscuit by Bairong to contain excessive levels of melamine and ordered that the products be withdrawn.

He said the ministry was checking Julie’s Crackers and Mali unsweetened condensed milk which was reported in the media to contain excessive levels of melamine.

Liow said consumers could contact the Food Services and Quality division at 03-8883 3655/3503/3652/3500 for information.

Khong Guan Sdn Bhd and Khian Guan Biscuit Manufacturing Company Sdn Bhd, in a joint statement, said they would fully cooperate with the ministry and would ensure that the products were recalled quickly.

The two companies said they have ceased using ammonium bicarbonate from China and had switched to those sourced from other countries.

“Khian Guan and Khong Guan have never used any dairy ingredients of Chinese origin in our products. All our dairy ingredients are sourced from either Australia or New Zealand,” they added.

The Star, Malaysia

Posted in Asia, China, Economy, Food, Health, Life, Made in China, News, products, Tainted Products, World | Comments Off on Malaysia Bans China Biscuits for Too Much Melamine

Melamine Detected First Time In Egg Powder From China in Japan

Posted by Author on October 17, 2008


The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan, Oct. 17, 2008-

Melamine was found in powdered dried whole eggs imported from China, Mitsui & Co. announced Thursday, marking the first time the toxic chemical has been found in Chinese egg products in Japan.

The Tokyo-based trading company said that it found 2.8 to 4.6 parts per million of melamine in the product. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry instructed importers of Chinese eggs to conduct thorough voluntary tests because the amount of melamine detected is above 2.5 ppm, the threshold for a voluntary recall.

No health problems have been reported, the ministry said.

According to Mitsui & Co., the powdered dried whole eggs were produced by Dalian Hanovo Foods Co. in Dalian, Liaoning Province. The trading company imported about 20 tons of the product on Sept. 1 and later sold the entire amount to Q.P. Egg Corp, a subsidiary of the major food company Q.P. Corp.

About 400 kilograms of the product were then sold to a bakery, and has likely already been used to make sweet buns.

Mitsui & Co. said it was informed by the Chinese company on Oct. 6 that melamine had been detected in feed for its chickens. The trading company then found melamine in all the three samples from eggs powder it imported from the company.

Q.P. Egg tested four types of sweet bun products at the bakery, but the toxic substance was not detected in them.

Dalian Hanovo Foods is one of the largest makers of egg products in China and has a farm with about 3 million chickens and production facilities in the city.

“We’re aware of melamine problems, but didn’t think about [possible contamination in] feed for chickens,” a Mitsui & Co. representative said. “Our risk judgment was insufficient.”

Dried whole eggs, which are made from powdered dried yolks and egg whites, are used in making bread and noodles. They also are used to flavor and color confectionary. The product can be stored longer than raw eggs. Almost all powdered egg distributed in the Japanese market is imported. In fiscal 2007, 3,368 tons were imported to Japan–2,303 tons from the United States, the largest supplier, and 265 tons from China, the third-largest.

Thursday’s announcement of the detection of the toxic substance in the powdered eggs stunned the importer, foodmakers and consumers, only two days after extremely high contaminations of pesticide were found in a packet of Chinese frozen green beans.

Mitsui & Co. and Q.P. Egg said they “trusted” the maker, while one consumer was shocked at spreading of melamine contamination in foods, saying, “Even eggs, which we eat everyday [have been contaminated].”

“We believed that safety has been assured, but this assumption was lenient,” Kenji Kawasaki, chief of Mitsui & Co.’s food and retail risk management section, said at a press conference held in Tokyo on Thursday evening. “We’re sorry.”

– The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan, Oct. 17, 2008

Posted in Asia, Business, China, Economy, Food, Health, Japan, Life, Made in China, medical, News, products, Tainted Products, World | Comments Off on Melamine Detected First Time In Egg Powder From China in Japan

Contaminated IV Medicine in Chinese Hospitals Causing at least 5 Deaths

Posted by Author on October 16, 2008


Epoch Times Staff,  Oct 14, 2008  –

At least 5 hospital patients died after receiving intravenous medicine in separate incidents in China this month, and many others became ill.

Three patients in southwestern China died after receiving the intravenous medicine called Ciwujia Fluid. The medicine was produced by the Wandashan Drug Company in Heilongjiang Province in northeastern China. The patients received the medicine at the No. 4 People’s Hospital in Honghezhou, Kaiyuan City, Yunan Province.

The medicine, Ciwujia Fluid, contains the herbal extract ciwujia. The herb is used in medicines and sports drinks, including some consumed in countries outside China. Ciwujia is itself safe, but batches of the medicine in different parts of China have been found to be contaminated with insects, mold, or other foreign matter. The multiple sources suggest sloppy handling in several different processing plants in different regions of China.

Altogether 19 patients received an intravenous injection of this particular medicine, said Yang Ru, the director of the hospital. These patients developed nausea, shortness of breath and shivering after receiving the medicine. The patients who died passed away within three days of being  given the drug. Three other patients remain in critical condition.

An administrator, Sun Yuemin, from the No. 2 Affiliated Hospital of the Kunming Medical Institute, said that all the patients who had developed adverse reactions had received Ciwujia exclusively. Some of the patients even had reactions while receiving the transfusion. Therefore, the hospital decided that Ciwujia was the likely cause of the patients’ reactions.

In August, the Kaiyuan City People’s Hospital had two patients who developed similar reactions after an intravenous transfusion of Ciwujia, according to Zeng Jianhe, deputy director of Honghezhou Health Bureau. However, the Ciwujia in both cases belonged to a different batch of the product.

Another two cases were reported in Qujing City of patients dying after an injection of Ciwujia.

Authorities believe that the Ciwujia, in all cases, was contaminated with a pathological microorganism.

Contamination in the South

In another case of contaminated intravenous fluid, Guangzhou Daily reported that the Gaoming District Huali Hospital in Fushan City, Guangdong Province had found foreign objects in intravenous fluids on three separate occasions. Two of the objects appeared to be insects, while another object was suspected to be mold.

The hospital, however, returned the contaminated medicine to the producer and no one was victimized in the incidents. The intravenous fluid in all three cases came from the same batch that was produced by the Litai Group Co. Ltd. in Guangdong Province.

The Epochtimes

Posted in China, Health, Life, Made in China, medicine, News, People, products, Social, South China, Tainted Products, World | 1 Comment »

Tainted Medicine Scares in China

Posted by Author on October 14, 2008


Radio Free Asia, 2008-10-13 –

Amid fallout over contaminated milk powder, two new scares over possibly tainted medical supplies in China have come to light.

HONG KONG—Health authorities in China say two batches of an injection fluid containing Siberian ginseng are “substandard” following laboratory tests, after three people died in the southwest of the country.

Authorities in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan have recalled two batches of ginseng injection vials following the deaths, which came after patients received the medication by injection.

Sun Yuemin, director of the No. 2 Hospital under the Kunming Medical School, was quoted in official media as saying it was clear from the appearance of the packaging that the color of the liquid varied from bottle to bottle, and the contents appeared turbid.

Six patients at the No. 4 People’s Hospital in Honghe Autonomous Prefecture suffered strong adverse reactions, including vomiting and becoming comatose, after being injected with ciwujia Siberian ginseng extract from the two batches, Sun said.

Calls to Sun’s office during working hours went unanswered on Friday.

Further tests are still being carried out on the ginseng fluid after three people died in hospital last week.

Recall ordered

Manufactured in December by Wandashan Pharmaceutical, in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, the two batches were ordered recalled after the deaths of three people who had received the injections.

A Wandashan employee surnamed Zhang said the company was still waiting for the full lab tests.

“The main thing is that the results of the investigation haven’t yet been published,” the employee, surnamed Zhou, said. “They didn’t get enough samples for testing from the two recalled batches, so we’re still waiting.”

Health Ministry experts have run tests on hundreds of samples of “Cuwujia Injection” herbal remedies, extracted from a variety of Siberian ginseng, which is often used to treat thrombosis caused by weak liver and kidneys.

It is also believed to be helpful in treating coronary heart disease, nervous exhaustion, and menopausal problems in traditional Chinese medicine.

They have so far found no toxins, such as rat poison, pesticide, or herbicide. Further investigations are now under way into the cause of the three deaths.

But they did say the two batches were “substandard,” official media reported……. (more details from Radio Free Asia)

Posted in China, Food, Health, Life, Made in China, medicine, News, People, products, Social, SW China, Tainted Products, World, Yunnan | Comments Off on Tainted Medicine Scares in China

China’s Tainted Food Phenomenon Reflects Chinese Culture Is Morally Bankrupt, Say Critics

Posted by Author on October 14, 2008


By Lin Ping, Radio Free Asia, Via The Epochtimes, Oct 13, 2008-

As the influence of China’s tainted dairy products continues to expand throughout the world, many are considering how these contaminated products are harming our health. While some critics believe that the tainted food-stuffs merely harm one’s physical body, others point out that tainted food trend, known as a phenomenon of making false products, is producing something even more harmful.

Chinese culture critic Zhu Dake recently published an article titled “The Phenomenon of Poisonous Milk and Kidney Stones” on his blog on sina.com Web site. Zhu describes how China’s contaminated dairy products have become another symptom of the country’s “Post-Olympics Era.”

In a country where almost all brands of dairy products have been intentionally contaminated, people can’t help but be suspicious of China’s entire food industry—an industry where tainted baby formula is only the tip of the iceberg.

Seeking to maximize profits, chemical and food manufacturers throughout the country continue to produce many toxic-laden food products.

To add insult to injury, government at all levels actually aid these manufacturers’ heinous practices in order to achieve the desired gross domestic product (GDP) growth target. Meanwhile, State Food Inspection institutions grant exempt-from-inspection certificates to those enterprises.

“This problem is actually an ethical collapse, as most of these business people have lost their basic morals, bringing down the whole management system in the process. This kind of thing wouldn’t happen in a normal society,” said Li Hongkuan, former editor in chief of VIP Reference (Dacankao), an electronic magazine based in Washington.

“The tainted Chinese culture is in fact more horrible than tainted milk powder but the public hasn’t increased their vigilance yet,” Li continued. “For example, in order to attract more traffic to their website, writers are forced to write 10,000 to 20,000 Chinese characters for serial stories instead of a more reasonable 3,000 characters a day. As a result, while the quantity of content has increased, the quality of the writing becomes very poor. “Best sellers” often equate with low-quality books. After the ‘fake singing’  incident at the Beijing Olympic Opening Ceremony was revealed, some even spoke out in support of the false performance.”

Dr. Wang Weiluo, a specialist in Planning Science in Architecture and Civil Engineering at University of Dortmund in Germany, thinks the fake and tainted products in industries across China reveals that Chinese society is morally bankrupt. To illustrate his point, Wang used the example of the school buildings that collapsed during the large earthquake in Sichuan Province earlier this year, which resulted in thousands of children being buried alive.

“Those school buildings had to be designed by architects, then this construction project had to be examined, inspected and approved,” explained Dr. Wang. “Therefore, the loaners or donators, the education bureau, construction contractors, workers, supervisors, the school master and school finance personnel all have a hand in building these poor quality school buildings. Not just a few people can be blamed for this. Many people in China see things that are not right and don’t bother say anything. They don’t think it is their responsibility and they have not thought that one day their children walking into these unsafe classrooms will get buried in the rubble.”

The Epochtimes

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Milk scandal sours China’s ‘soft power’

Posted by Author on October 13, 2008


By Willy Lam, Asia Times Online, Hong Kong, 9 Oct 2008-

China’s formidable state machinery was able to stage the largest Olympics in history and to have a “Taikonaut” perform a 20-minute spacewalk last week. Yet the world-scale scandal emanating from contaminated milk products has exposed the worsening malaise in the country’s political and administrative structure.

As of early October, four children died and more than 60,000 children were sickened after having consumed milk powder tainted with melamine, an illegal chemical used by farmers to fake the protein content of their milk. Not only rich countries such as the United States and Britain, but also Asian and African nations ranging from Singapore and Vietnam to Gabon and Ghana, have banned Chinese-made dairy goods and a wide range of biscuits and candies made with Chinese ingredients.

More than a dozen big-name manufacturers within China’s $20 billion dairy industry – as well as the country’s food safety regulatory system – have been found guilty of either conniving in the use of the chemical or failing to spot the malpractice, according to reports.

The milk powder scandal has dealt a severe blow to the “made in China” brand even as the growth of China’s exports – the most important driver of the Chinese economy – has been slowed by economic downturn in its major markets.

More significantly, China’s export of tainted milk products – which has come on the heels of contaminated cosmetics and pet food as well as dangerous toys and furniture – has severely damaged the goodwill and “soft power” that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has tried to gain through multi-billion dollar “prestige-engineering projects” such as the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.

In an emotional meeting with the parents of children who had fallen sick after imbibing tainted milk, Premier Wen Jiabao said he felt “very guilty” about the poisoned milk, adding “I sincerely apologize to all of you.”

While appearing at the United Nations General Assembly as well as the World Economic Forum (WEF), Wen assured the international community of Beijing’s ability to fix the problem. Referring to the milk disaster, Wen said at the WEF last weekend: “This issue is not over yet, but please be assured that we will soon unveil plans to boost the food industry. My government and I will lead our people through this hard journey.”

While Wen has a well-deserved reputation as a “premier who puts people first”, his words may not sound that convincing. Only weeks after the Beijing Olympics, China has witnessed man-made disasters of gargantuan proportions.

More than 250 residents in Xiangfen County, Shanxi province, perished in a mudslide in early September. The accident was triggered by the collapse of the retaining wall of an illegal mining dump containing tons of liquid iron ore waste. In nearby Henan province, 37 miners were killed in an accident in Dengfeng County. The cause of the disaster was again lax regulations and poor inspection. Then came the fire in Wu Wang Nightclub, an illegal, unlicensed outfit in Shenzhen, the boomtown just across the border from Hong Kong. Forty-three revelers, including five day-trippers from Hong Kong, perished.

Even assuming that party and government authorities are really serious this time, they face an uphill battle in eradicating unscrupulous and malfeasant manufacturers and businessmen in China. A key reason behind the recent spate of scandals is that particularly in the provinces and cities, entrepreneurs and regional officials enjoy cozy relationships. And this is not solely because large corporations are major tax contributors. …… (more details from Asia Times Online)

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Press Controls Feed China’s Food Problem

Posted by Author on October 13, 2008


By DAVID BANDURSKI, FROM TODAY’S WALL STREET JOURNAL ASIA, OCTOBER 7, 2008-

Nearly three weeks after China’s melamine-tainted milk powder scandal first came to light, Beijing is scrambling to assure the public nothing like this will ever happen again. Yet the Communist Party’s insistence on maintaining press controls still presents a significant stumbling block to addressing China’s quality control problems. Greater press freedom is not on its own a solution to product safety problems in China, but it has to be a component of any strategy to deal with the issue. Free media could help keep companies and regulators honest, expose lapses, and provide the public with critical updates on safety problems — especially in a nation like China, where rule of law is still a long time coming.

China’s milk disaster might have been averted, or fewer people affected, had China’s leaders permitted journalists to do their jobs. In late July, journalist He Feng of Guangdong’s Southern Weekend newspaper began investigating reports that infants had fallen ill after consuming milk powder from dairy giant Shijiazhuang Sanlu Group, the company at the center of the milk powder scandal. But Southern Weekend’s report was never published. It was only after the story came to light six weeks later that one of the newspaper’s top editors, Fu Jianfeng, revealed on his personal blog that this report on poisonous milk powder had been suppressed by authorities.

In August, with the Beijing Olympics in full swing, Chinese media were under enormous pressure from state leaders to carry out only “positive reporting.” Problems in China’s dairy industry were off limits. At the same time, Sanlu Group itself was honored by scores of national media in an award campaign called “30 Years: Brands that Have Changed the Lives of Chinese.” The press release on the honor, written by a senior public relations manager at Sanlu, ran unchanged as news content on the Web site of the official People’s Daily and in other media.

The suppression of bad news has continued, and by some measures gotten worse, since the scandal has come to light. The specific nature of media bans remains unclear, although it appears from news reports that media have been instructed to stick to the government line as reported by the official Xinhua news agency. Chinese journalists tell me any further reporting on problems in China’s dairy industry is impossible. Discussion of the causes of the crisis and government responsibility, including questions about government cooperation with dairy companies, is strictly off limits. Nor are Chinese consumers being offered information about the breadth of global recalls.

For the past six years, Hu Jintao has promoted a policy combining rapid commercial media growth with strict media control under the banner of “guidance of public opinion.” Just over a week ago, party leaders sent the message that these policies are unlikely to change: They ordered a three-month suspension for China Business Post, a Beijing-based newspaper that dared to report on questionable accounts at a major state bank without first seeking the bank’s approval as required under little-known CCP rules. It’s exactly this kind of approach that has greatly exacerbated the milk powder tragedy.

With contaminated dairy products, candies and milk teas being pulled from shelves around the world, it’s clear that China’s quality-assurance failure is a global problem. And that makes Beijing’s refusal to let the media act as effective watchdogs a global problem, too.

Mr. Bandurski is a researcher at the China Media Project at the University of Hong Kong.

WALL STREET JOURNAL

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3rd China milk product has melamine: Philippine

Posted by Author on October 11, 2008


By Dona Pazzibugan, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 10/09/2008-

MANILA, Philippines—A third milk product from China sold in the Philippines was found to be contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine, but health authorities sounded less worried about the extent of its effect on consumers.

Jolly Cow Slender High Calcium Low Fat Milk (1 liter), which comes in a red and white box, has a melamine level of four parts per million (ppm).

“That is high because (the level) should be zero,” Ma. Lourdes Santiago, officer in charge of the Bureau of Food and Drugs’ (BFAD) laboratory services, said at a press conference at the Department of Health Wednesday.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Jolly Cow Slender High Calcium Low Fat Milk had already been withdrawn from store shelves.

At the same time, the BFAD cleared 21 dairy products, including some ice cream and chocolate products for being melamine-free.

Melamine-contaminated milk has killed at least four children and sickened at least 54,000 others in China, prompting a worldwide recall of milk products from China.

The BFAD announced on Oct. 3 that Greenfood Yili Fresh Milk (with labels in Chinese characters) and Mengniu Drink (in Chinese characters) had tested positive for melamine.

Jolly Cow Pure Fresh Milk was among the 28 milk and milk-related products that the agency had found to be negative for melamine.

When added to milk, melamine, which is normally used to make plastics, makes the milk look richer in protein than it really is.

There are other Jolly Cow milk products in the market, some of which are not from China……. (more details from inquirer.net)

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China Parents swarm stores in Hong Kong for foreign-made milk products

Posted by Author on October 7, 2008


AFP, Oct.6, 2008-

HONG KONG (AFP) — Chinese families have swarmed stores in Hong Kong selling foreign-made milk products as trust in China-made products plummets.

Normally, mainland visitors to Hong Kong flood to luxury goods stores for handbags and jewellery during the national holiday.

But China’s toxic milk scandal, which has left 53,000 children ill and four dead has changed the desire for Gucci and Louis Vuitton.

One visitor, Emily Zheng, a mainland Chinese visitor, bought as many tins of Japanese-made infant milk powder as the Hong Kong store would allow her.

Zheng, who lives in the neighbouring southern Chinese province of Guangdong, had travelled across the border to stock up on supplies. After the toxic milk scandal, she does not trust China-made products.

“We will not go for mainland milk again. It is so dangerous,” she told AFP.

“My daughter is expected to deliver a baby girl next week. We are worried about a potential shortage of formula

and thought it would be safer to buy more now. You can’t expect a baby to come to this world without food, can you?”

Fears about drinking Chinese-made milk tainted with melamine have continued to grow.

The toxic chemical, normally used to make plastic, can make a dairy product appear richer in protein than it actually is, and unscrupulous farmers have been adding it watered-down milk to increase profits.

The scandal has been a public relations disaster for China, already reeling from a string of food safety controversies, and has led governments worldwide to impose massive recalls since it was revealed several weeks ago.

It has also exposed how many major milk and confection brands have been using China as a production base, unable to control the milk they were supplied with.

But the scandal has opened up new opportunities for overseas producers.

Mina Leung, a mother from Macau, said she took the one-hour ferry trip to Hong Kong with her husband just to buy more Japanese-brand formula for her baby.

“The product is not sold in Macau. We had been to three stores here and were told every time that there was no more stock. Fortunately, we found some in the fourth shop,” she told AFP.

Alice Wong, a supervisor at Bonjour’s city centre branch, said demand for overseas infant formula had rocketed.

“The scene at our store was terrifying. Mainlanders came here with their trolleys and each of them ordered at least 32 tins of infant formula,” she told AFP. “They were searching every corner of the city for baby formula.”

“We had to keep refilling the shelves as they were emptied out by the customers throughout the day.”

The cosmetics and health care chain had to suspend its online ordering service after it ran out of stock several times. (…… More details)

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Open letter to WHO director about China’s contaminated milk powder scandal: RSF

Posted by Author on October 4, 2008


Reporter Without Borders, 2 October 2008-

Dr. Margaret Chan
Director-General
World Health Organisation
Avenue Appia 20
1211 Geneva 27
Switzerland

Paris, 1 October 2008

Dear Director-General,

You have often spoken publicly of the importance of the free flow of information about public health issues. The latest developments in the Chinese contaminated milk powder scandal show very clearly that the system of censorship imposed by the Chinese government has had a disastrous impact on the health of tens of thousands of new-born babies in China and other countries to which its milk products are exported. Many babies have been poisoned because journalists and researchers were unable to publish their information.

An official in your organisation has stressed to the media the importance of a “culture of openness and rapid reporting” in this kind of crisis. For your part, you have said Asian woman should breast-feed rather than use powdered milk products, but that does not seem to be an adequate response to this tragic situation.

How can you accept that the World Health Organisation was not notified until 11 September of the toxicity of these products although information had been circulating since December 2007? As early as last July, He Feng, an investigative journalist with a weekly in southern China, had gathered detailed information on a wave of hospitalisations of babies. But the Chinese government, through the Propaganda Department, imposed a ban on publishing negative information about food scandals before and during the Olympic Games. So He Feng’s editor decided not to publish his information for fear of being punished by the authorities.

Just before the Olympic Games, the Propaganda Department sent a list of 21 banned subjects to the news media. One of them (point 8) was food safety. “All subjects linked to food safety, such as mineral water causing cancer, are off-limits,” the directive said.

The authorities have even suppressed a blog entry by Fu Jianfeng, He Feng’s editor, who did not dare publish what they had learned. “I sensed that this was going to be a huge public health disaster,” Fu wrote in the censored post.

We thought the Chinese authorities and the WHO had learned the lesson of the SARS crisis, which the authorities covered up for several months by censoring the press.

To our great regret, the highest authorities in Beijing continue to impose censorship on public health subjects. We urge you to speak out publicly against these repressive and dangerous practices as they are harmful to the health of both Chinese citizens and the population of neighbouring countries.

Your organisation has published figures that show the scale of the harm cause by the tainted milk scandal: more than 54,000 children have been treated, 12,000 have been hospitalised and at least four have died.

At the same time, the WHO has publicly congratulated itself on its ability to react to this crisis and has hailed the cooperation it has been receiving from the Chinese authorities in all areas, including its “regular updates.” Should not a sterner comment have been made to the Chinese government for continuing to prioritise news control at the expense of its citizens’ health?

As we know you are committed to press freedom, we urge you to intercede with the authorities in Beijing as quickly as possible on this matter.

I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

Jean-François Julliard Secretary-General

Reporters Without Borders

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S. Korea says tonnes of unsafe Chinese herbal medicine destroyed

Posted by Author on October 2, 2008


AFP, Oct.1, 2008-

SEOUL (AFP) — South Korea destroyed 871 tonnes of imported Chinese herbal medicine ingredients over the past two years because they contained excessive level of toxins, official figures showed Wednesday.

The Korea Food and Drug Administration told parliament in a report that the imports had higher than permitted amounts of heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and arsenic as well as sulphur dioxide.

South Korea last year imported 19,650 tonnes of Chinese herbs and other material for oriental medicines, 78 percent of the total imports.

The report came amid a new scare about Chinese food safety after melamine was found in infant milk formula, sickening nearly 53,000 children and killing four in China.

South Korea banned the import of all products containing Chinese powdered milk and has been inspecting 428 brands of Chinese imported food already on sale.

As of Tuesday, it had found that six of the 186 items checked so far were contaminated with melamine.

AFP

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China covered up milk scare to protect Olympics: critics

Posted by Author on October 2, 2008


AFP, Sep. 30, 2008-

BEIJING (AFP) — China knew about the contamination of milk products months ago but covered the scandal up to prevent it tarnishing the Beijing Olympics, according to journalists, rights groups and media critics.

The crisis broke in mid-September, a month after the Olympics, but several Chinese reporters had long known about babies being hospitalised after drinking tainted milk, yet were muzzled by the authorities, the critics say.

An editor at a respected southern China newspaper said that as early as July one of his reporters was investigating how milk powder might have been to blame for children developing kidney stones and falling seriously sick.

“As a news editor, I was deeply concerned because I sensed that this was going to be a huge public health disaster,” Southern Weekend news editor Fu Jianfeng said on his blog.

“But I could not send any reporters out to investigate. Therefore, I harboured a deep sense of guilt and defeat at the time.”

Fu’s blog posting was later removed, although it could be read on some overseas Chinese websites. Fu himself could not be reached for comment.

An estimated 53,000 Chinese children have been sickened after the industrial chemical melamine was added to milk products, and four infants have died.

The first of the baby deaths was on May 1, more than four months before the scandal went public.

Starting with Sanlu milk powder, the scare has gone on to envelop numerous Chinese firms and international companies operating in China, including global giants Cadbury and Unilever.

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao vowed over the weekend to work to restore his country’s reputation, saying it was facing the problem “candidly”.

However, there are claims that Chinese authorities reverted to the familiar practice of squashing the negative news reports, apparently conscious of the damage it would do to the August 8-24 Olympics.

“Several Chinese journalists have said it is becoming more and more obvious that the authorities in July prevented an investigation into the toxic milk coming out so as not to tarnish China’s image before the Olympics,” said a statement by media rights group Reporters Without Borders.

Sanlu Group began receiving complaints of sick children as early as last December, a recent cabinet probe found in an apparent attempt to shift the blame for the delay.

It also said Communist officials in the northern city of Shijiazhuang, where Sanlu is based, delayed referring the matter to higher authorities for more than a month after Sanlu finally told them of the problem on August 2, six days before the Beijing Games began.

“It is a concern that the first cases appeared early, but were concealed during the Olympics. A perfect environment was needed for the Games,” said a Western product-safety expert who asked not to be named.

Despite the World Health Organisation and United Nations raising concerns about the delay in exposing the risks, rights groups say the Chinese government is continuing to silence reporters, suppressing media coverage vital to determining blame and preventing a recurrence.

“The government’s gag order on the media has the effect of shielding those responsible for the tainted milk from accountability,” Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a network of domestic and foreign rights activists, said in an emailed report.

It cited several instances of reporting by Chinese media censored or banned by authorities. The instances could not be confirmed by AFP.

The Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists last week also criticised China for “escalated restrictions” on reporting on the scandal.

It said propaganda authorities had expelled journalists from at least four Chinese newspapers in the same city as Sanlu’s headquarters.

It also said authorities had deleted articles on the case from news websites and insisted on pre-approving related articles.

“China’s Central Propaganda Department’s attempts to control the media’s reporting of a very serious public health crisis can only serve to heighten fears,” the IFJ said.

“A free flow of information through a free media is vital where lives are at stake, and government restrictions on journalists may be endangering public health.”

China has blamed the scandal largely on milk brokers adding melamine to boost milk protein readings.

AFP

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Deadly milk shows China’s rules of political survival

Posted by Author on September 30, 2008


By Chris Buckley – Analysis, via Reuters, Sun Sep 28, 2008-

BEIJING (Reuters) – “We worked real hard for half a year, now we’re suddenly back to before the Games were here,” goes the translation of a rhyme doing the rounds in China.

And so it is.

Mass poisonings from toxic milk powder, official claims of a cover-up, and other deadly incidents involving official mendacity have shown the stagecraft of the Beijing Olympics did not much alter the backstage workings of China’s one-Party state.

Premier Wen Jiabao has vowed an overhaul of food safety after some 13,000 children crowded into hospitals, ill from an industrial chemical in the milk. Four have died.

Managers have already been arrested, officials dumped.

Yet after similar scandals, similar sackings and arrests, and similar vows last year, many Chinese are reluctant to invest high hopes that such worries will soon be behind them.

“Consumers have been given one chemistry class after another by the food industry,” wrote a commentator in the latest issue of the Chinese magazine Southern Breeze, listing past scares over rice, eggs and seafood.

“Although after the fact the government applies its fire-fighting style to resolving them, over time the public has easily evolved into treating government action as a game.”

That game often involves central leaders pleading ignorance and punishing local and junior officials blamed for hiding or underplaying problems. The milk scare has been no different.

But a closer look at how the contamination bloomed into a national crisis suggests the problems run deeper in a political system that has before also treated health threats as, foremost, political and economic threats.

“Many central policies and rules are hijacked by officials at the local level, but the center has so many different demands that local officials do this to survive,” said Zhou Shifeng, a Beijing lawyer who has volunteered to help milk powder victims.

“Local officials are where problems emerge, but they’re not the only problem.”

A POLITICAL EXCUSE

In China, even when alarming information amasses, official warning bells can be muffled by other priorities.

Parents began reporting outbreaks of kidney stones in babies months before the scandal became public, health and quality control officials have said.

Gansu, a poor northwest province, told the Ministry of Health about an outbreak linked to milk powder soon after investigating it in July, local health spokesman Yang Jingke told media earlier this month.

But the emerging nationwide pattern of poisonings was obscured in a top-down system adept at giving orders but ill-suited to heeding citizens, said Guan Anping, a former trade official and lawyer who has dealt with dairies.

“Local governments focus on economic growth and preventing mass unrest as the sole measures of political success,” he said. “That’s what happened with milk powder … telling ordinary people was too much trouble, because of this gulf of distrust between the government and people.”

That problem is by no means new.

In 2003, officials kept quiet the spreading peril of SARS until rumors flared into panic. In 2004, at least 13 babies died from milk powder with no nutrition before authorities acted on parents’ long-running complaints. And in the 1990s, many thousands of farmers in central China died from AIDS before officials acknowledged an epidemic and began to supply medicine.

Commercial and political worries also appear to have discouraged officials at the geographic heart of the scandal from acting sooner, said several analysts.

In the northern province of Hebei, officials for months kept to themselves mounting documentation of infants ill from milk powder made by Sanlu, a pillar of the economy in the provincial capital, Shijiazhuang, a senior health official and state media have said.

Sanlu is part owned by New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra.

Shijiazhuang and Fonterra were formally told of Sanlu’s toxic milk problem on Aug 2. But the city waited 38 days to officially tell provincial officials, who told the central government on September 8, according to the Xinhua news agency.

That was the same day that the New Zealand prime minister said her government, frustrated at the lack of public action, contacted Beijing about the poisonings.

Shijiazhuang has not explained the delay over the Beijing Olympics period. A senior Ministry of Health official, Gao Qiang, has said there was “no necessary connection” with the Games.

But for many Chinese people there is little doubt.

“The Olympics provided a political excuse to cover this up, and when that excuse disappeared, the problem kept growing and had to come out,” said Zhang Ming, a historian and political commentator at Renmin University in Beijing who has written on the scandal.

But while Shijiazhuang officials now face condemnation for their actions, they also shouldered other massive pressures from central leaders.

Sited next to Beijing, Hebei province was a focus of intense efforts to ensure a trouble-free Games. The nation’s top domestic security official, Zhou Yongkang, told Hebei to be a “protective moat,” defending the capital from potential unrest.

Echoing central demands, Hebei officials also vowed there would be no tainted food from there blighting the Games. In late 2007, the province introduced new rules on milk hygiene.

Disclosing the milk poisoning would have drawn anguished parents to Hebei and Beijing, threatening to disgrace the Chinese government under a limelight of Olympics attention, said Zhang, the Beijing professor.

“At a time when stability was an absolute priority, they made a choice,” he said. “Food safety is important, but stability concerns the survival of the Party. Officials naturally assumed their own survival came first.”

Reuters

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Two dozen of China milk victim lawyers say pressed by officials to quit

Posted by Author on September 29, 2008


By Chris Buckley, Reuters, Sep.  28, 2008-

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese lawyers seeking redress for infant victims of toxic milk say they are facing growing official pressure to abandon the efforts, blaming growing government sensitivity over the health scandal.

Scenes of thousands of parents crowding hospitals, seeking help for babies ill from toxic dairy powder, have stoked widespread public dismay in China.

Reflecting that anger, local rights advocates and lawyers have mobilized to support families seeking redress, possibly by suing dairies or officials who failed to disclose the problem.

But on Sunday, organizers of the campaign and some of the lawyers said officials in some provinces have pressured volunteers or their bosses to give up the campaign.

“About two dozen of the lawyers have called these past days to say they want to quit the volunteer advice group,” said Li Fangping, a Beijing lawyer who helped organize the group soon after public news of the poisonings emerged.

“Some of them said that they or their offices were told they’d face serious repercussions if they stayed involved.”

The pressure has by no means deterred all the lawyers to drop out, and nor does that pressure appear to have been uniformly intense, Li and other participants said. Even after the departures, the group has about 120 lawyers ready to give free advice.

But the rash of warnings suggests the government does not want lingering political and legal fallout from the milk scandal.

“I’d guess they see this issue as just too sensitive for lawyers and court cases,” said Zhou Shifeng, a volunteer lawyer from Beijing who said he had heard of the pressure.

“When the interests involved are too powerful, they will devise ways to get lawyers to quit, not necessarily direct orders.”

More than 13,000 infants were admitted to Chinese hospitals with kidney illnesses and other symptoms of drinking milk tainted with melamine, an industrial additive used to cheat quality checks.

A week ago, the Ministry of Health said 104 had serious illness, and close to 40,000 others were affected but did not need to stay in hospital. Four victims have died.

This week, province health offices added 10,000 or so to the count of affected children.

LAWYERS UNDER PRESSURE

Many hundreds of parents have called the volunteers to ask about compensation, and possibly suing Sanlu Group, the north Chinese dairy whose milk powder has been blamed for many of the illnesses, said Li.

He and many of the other lawyers are members of a loose network of “rights defenders” who in recent years have seized on official scandals and scares to press for stronger citizen rights.

Lawyers in Beijing said law officials there had nudged them to be “aware of the general picture” and to heed and have trust in the government’s handling of the scandal.

“It was given in the spirit of concerned advice,” said Zhou.

But in other parts of the country where many children are sick, apparently from milk powder, the advocates received tougher warnings, some said.

“The local judicial authorities just don’t want any of us to take part,” said Chang Boyang, a lawyer from central China’s Henan province who helped organize the group. “The pressure on law offices was too heavy. We had to compromise.”

Li said one Henan lawyer had called 15 times on Saturday to ensure his name was wiped from the list of volunteer lawyers.

An official in the Henan judicial affairs office said she was too busy to answer questions about the claimed pressure. An official in the central Ministry of Justice said he knew nothing of the claims and refused to give his name.

“I think our work helps make society fairer and more stable,” said the lawyer Li. “No matter what we’ll continue with it. Many parents keep calling us.”

– Reuters: China milk victim lawyers say pressed to quit

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China’s leaders eat pure food as babies die

Posted by Author on September 29, 2008


Michael Sheridan, Far East Correspondent , The Times Online, UK, September 28, 2008-

CHINA’S children may be dying from tainted milk but the country’s leaders are dining on pure organic ingredients. Like the emperors of old, the new communist elite enjoy the finest produce from all over China, sourced by a high-security government department.

The revelation has provoked anger among the public and embarrassment for the leadership as it battles a food scandal that has further damaged the country’s reputation.

Chinese milk products have been banned by the European Union and the state media have admitted that one child in 20 in Shanghai may now have kidney damage as a result of drinking contaminated formula milk.

No such peril lies in wait, however, for the members of China’s political elite.

Their diet includes beef from cattle that have grazed on the pesticide-free pastures of inner Mongolia and fish from the crystalline rivers and lakes of Hubei province in central China. They dine on rice that costs 15 times the price of the ordinary grain; as well it might, being grown on the slopes of a mountain near North Korea and irrigated by clear waters from melting snows.

They sip tea brewed with the most delicate leaves from lofty plantations on the fringe of the Tibetan plateau. It costs more than £100 a pound.

The task of selecting the best falls to a body known as the State Council Central Government Bureau Special Food Supply Centre. It caters for the dietary needs of the senior leaders such as President Hu Jintao who, foreign diplomats say, is a diabetic.

“To care for the health of elderly officials, we consider healthy food a special task,” said Zhu Yonglan, the centre’s director, in a recent speech.

“For security we insist food is approved by scientists for no contamination or chemical additives and there must be a quality audit right down the food chain to the provider.”

The text of Zhu’s speech was removed from a biotech company website hours after the People’s Daily published a denial that either the centre or Zhu existed. “That news is fabricated,” it said.

Bloggers then published its address at 12 Dongtu Road, in Beijing’s Chaoyang district, named the police-owned farms that it used, and said it supplied 94 individual officials.

The centre was set up in 2004 after a spate of tragic incidents revealing that China’s food chain is fraught with danger. Poisoned dumplings exported to Japan, fish laden with carci-nogens, counterfeit rice spirit that makes the drinker go blind – the average Chinese consumer has endured them all.

In this latest scandal, at least 13,000 children are in hospital and three babies have died after drinking formula milk containing melamine, a chemical that can cause kidney damage. It is added illegally to watered-down raw milk to increase its protein content.

Twenty-two Chinese dairies are implicated and milk sales have fallen sharply. Chinese milk and products containing it, such as cakes and biscuits, have been banned or recalled from many countries.

So far the authorities have taken more than 7,000 tons of suspect products off shelves, arrested 18 people and sacked seven government officials.

The Communist party propaganda machine has gone into full damage control mode. Xin-hua, the state news agency, last week praised western-style public relations and “brand crisis management” for restoring public confidence.

The Chinese public appeared to be more sceptical in its uncensored online response to the news. One blogger complained: “In China tigers are made of paper and milk powder is made of poison but high officials have their own food supplies and that’s why they don’t really care about safety.” China has sacked its police chief and deputy governor in Tibet six months after riots by Tibetans embarrassed the government and led to worldwide protest ahead of the Olympic Games.

– The Times Online: China’s elite eat pure food as babies die

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