More on the Tainted Milk

The number of sick children has risen to over 53,000 here in China, as a result of melamine added to milk (amongst other things – animal skin and urine being common additives to boost the protein content). The New York Times has reported that there have been massive dairy recalls all over China. Yet, when Liz went to the supermarket today, she saw aisles full of dairy products marked down for sale. Friends have reported seeing similar sales on dairy products at other supermarkets. Remarkably Liz saw plenty of people, including a mother with an 18 month old, eagerly buying the unusually underpriced products. We are not yet able to read the newspapers in Chinese, but it makes us wonder how publicized the tainted milk scandal has been and if people are taking it seriously! People also drink plenty of boiled tap water here without a thought, when the levels of toxic substances – like mercury and lead, which can not be removed by boiling – are unacceptably high.

Our Ayi has told us that mothers stop nursing their babies here by “at least 8 months old, because otherwise that’s all they ever want.” This is not surprising, since women typically only have one child and most women work in environments that we can’t imagine would be friendly to a mother who needs time to pump breastmilk! If a woman is going to have a second child (which can be done for a sum of money paid to the local authorities), she can be legally fired from her job on that basis alone. So it’s not a surprise, in the midst of this environment, that few women breastfeed beyond a certain age. Unfortunately, the alternative – feeding their babies Chinese formula – can have deadly consequences.

Money and money-making, as anywhere else in the world, are very very important here. Sometimes, it seems more important to make money than to worry about many thousands of children becoming very sick. We are hopeful that the government does more than sack a few higher-ups to make positive change in the dairy industry and in all their manufacturing sectors. Before we left for China, we read a statistic that 15% of products on any given grocery-store shelf in China are contaminated in some way. We don’t have a hard time believing this, and we consume with a great deal of care.

We hope that some kind of justice is done here for the many children and families suffering as a consequence of the tainted milk.


2 Responses to “More on the Tainted Milk”

  1. 1 chumpman September 24, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    This is terrible. 53,000 babies and toddlers is no small numbers. I hope the ones responsible will be brought to justice. this is too much.

  2. 2 mjfalk September 25, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    So difficult to imagine the government’s lack of protective measures for the citizenry–I’m sure every American shopper will check country of origin on the labels of all purchases now. We are finding here in the US that so many products on the market are from China. Buyer Beware ??—Where is the international outrage in the face of such blatant neglect???

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