China Milk Scandal Update: Nestle Hits Back

Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on October 2, 2008

The poisoned milk scandal keeps spreading. Today Taiwanese government officials yanked Nestle products from store shelves after tests showed trace amounts of melamine, the industrial chemical added to Chinese milk. According to the Associated Press Taiwan’s Health Minister, Yeh Ching-chuan, said Nestle powdered milk from northeastern China’s Heilongjiang province had between 0.3 and 0.85 parts per million of melamine. “Such minor doses of melamine will not affect people’s health,” Yeh said, “but we will take them off shelves according to our recommended procedures.”

Nestle argues that the move is unnecessary. In a statement sent to reporters today, the Swiss giant said “the company immediately complied with authorities’ request, even though the Department of Health itself confirmed that these products are absolutely safe by any recognized international standards. Moreover, these products had already received official certification as being safe from the Department of Health.”

The company also takes a stab at trying to contain a melamine panic among health officials. Yes, there’s some of the chemical in Nestle’s milk, the company says, but the amounts not only are so small as to be insignificant to health, they also would probably be there regardless of what unscrupulous Chinese dairy industry players did. “According to international experts the levels of melamine detected in these products by Taiwan’s Department of Health are so minute that they are almost certainly present in any food product anywhere in the world. Such minute traces exist in the natural food cycle. Indeed, the EU and the US have long had limits for the presence of melamine in food and the WHO recently issued recommendations which were used by other countries including New Zealand to set their own standards. The 0.05 ppm detection limit currently applied in Taiwan is up to 50 times below recognized and accepted international standards.”

Perhaps Nestle does have science on its side. But right now the science doesn’t much matter. Given the shocking news from China and the heartbreaking photos of Chinese babies suffering from melamine-induced kidney stones, I seriously doubt Nestle or any other company will be able to make much headway in stopping the momentum against Chinese-made dairy products.

Reader Comments

keith

October 3, 2008 5:13 AM

I doubt does melamine really present in any food anywhere in the world. It's better some WHO officials come out to say something and give a guideline of general acceptable intake level to calm down panic among people.
By the way, our world is contaminated, this is a fact!

slo

October 4, 2008 10:51 AM

This is why cancer rates are so high. We should not accept any trace of bad chemicals in our food supply! I like what the Taiwanese are doing. Keep it up!

Edward Norton

October 4, 2008 1:18 PM

I'm in Hong Kong for a few months now and we're seeing a huge backlash against China made food products. It's nor just milk related stuff, but anything coming in from China is either unsold or rejected.

Now with Taiwan claiming melamine contamination with Chinese exported vegetables, I wonder where this will all end.

Squeezebox

October 6, 2008 12:42 PM

Melamine in very low doses isn't so bad. If it were, millions of Americans would have kidney stones from plastic plates and cups sold in the 1950's. Does anybody remember Melmac?

Interconnect

October 6, 2008 2:03 PM

The Indo-Pak sub-continent of India, Pakistan is rich in dairy milk with one of the highest milk production in the region. Two categories of milk on commercial scale. Cow, buffalo's milk, packed processed by local, and international milk processors including Nestle, Amul in India, Olper in Pakistan. Packing cost for UHT, powdered milk, which is subject to VAT enhances the price upto 20%. Hence open fresh milk is mostly sold. In view of the situation in China I would suggest and reccomend laboratory check of the milk whether packed, loose, fresh, pasturised, UHT, powdered milk be checked essentially by authentic procedures by recognised labs. eMail: haroon.rashid@akunet.org

Richard

October 6, 2008 11:15 PM

I don't understand why china is exporting food products anyhow. For many many years we were taught that China would never be able to grow enough food to sustain their own population....so WHY are they exporting food products?? Would somebody please explain this to me?

Interconnect

October 10, 2008 7:36 AM

Inflationary times, when glass of milk is recent in China, India, Pakistan. Children, senior citizen, unwell, sick need millions of tons of milk which is wasted/destroyed of Chinese origin. Its time for food regulators, authorities in China, India, Pakistan for re-assessment of milk for the consumer. Tainted milk declared un-fit for children can still be used in several formulations as soaps, processes, etc., after laboratory check if find compliant, can be converted to powdered milk. China caters to the global markets for consumer products and milk, dairy products, would still be acceptable subject to compliance of standards and regulatory approval in the markets of Pakistan where China-Pakistan has FTA/PTA treaty for entry of tax preferential/free tax status. Let China contribute its role to the world food resources, eliminate hunger, poverty in the poor, poorest people. People in poverty cannot afford a glass of milk in many parts of the world. Why China cannot have its market share with cheap and good milk from China for everyone poor in the poor world, with poverty/hunger. When China can provide a toy to every poor parents child, they can also give every poor parent child good quality milk, yet affordable. Brands as Yilli are still great brands to be welcomed by millions to enjoy.

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