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Melamine in milk reporting was delayed: China scandal

China has been suffering from some serious bad press over an extended period due to low quality of some of its exports. This continued reporting of quality problems has started to affect the company’s reputation, and this latest report by the WHO over deliberate delays in reporting of the melamine in milk scandal would only aggravate issues. Given that the melamine content is far higher than the tolerable level, and was deliberately added to mislead testing about the protein levels, and that complaints about these issues were received as far ago as December of 2007, one can sense that at some point, the Chinese Government will suddenly start to take very harsh action (in the past, they have executed the head of an inspection agency for some previous issue like this one):

China, embroiled in a tainted milk scandal that led to the deaths of four babies and sickened 53,000, suffered from a “deliberate failure” to report the contamination, the World Health Organization said today. “This incident was aggravated by delays in reporting at a number of sources,” Hans Troedsson, WHO’s China representative, told reporters in Beijing today. “These delays were probably a combination of ignorance and deliberate failure to report.”

The melamine-milk crisis has revived concerns about Chinese food-safety controls after previous scares over seafood, dumplings and pet food. The European Union yesterday proposed banning some Chinese dairy products, joining restrictions in more than 20 countries and markets after 22 mainland companies were found to have sold contaminated products. “Controls in China need to be reinforced,” EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said today in Beijing. “Above all, we expect responsibility from producers and managers in all companies involved in food production.’

This scandal is pushing beyond just milk, with products that use milk also getting affected. Chocolates, candies, yoghurt, ice cream, etc, are all under investigation in countries around the world. In some cases, melamine has been found in many of these products, and they have been pulled from the shelves. As a result, companies around the world have pulled China origin dairy products from stores in their countries, and many questions have been raised on the level of quality inspections in China. Coming soon after the Olympics gave a positive thumbs-up to China’s image, such a major scandal, that too affecting a food item, exposes the lack of quality control in the country’s industries, and has an immense potential to harm China’s exporting image.

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