As continuations of the recent article “Too many recalls, too many consequences,” Chinese officials have reported that a third infant has died from ingesting milk contaminated with melamine. According to the Chinese Health Minister, there were around 1,250 babies affected, and there are currently 6,244 sick babies, 158 of those are experiencing ‘acute kidney failure.’
Government officials inspected 109 Chinese dairy product manufacturers and found that a fifth of them have been distributed while knowingly containing melamine. China’s major baby milk powder producer is the Sanlu Group, which recently revealed its products, contained melamine. Melamine is a chemical used in making plastics and is banned in food production. Other offending companies include the Beijing Olympics sponsor Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group and Hong Kong’s Mengniu Dairy Co Ltd. Additionally, two Chinese brothers have been arrested on the charge of “deliberately adding melamine to milk supplied by Sanlu.” News reports from the Chinese state agency, Xinhua, has stated that the “two are believed to have added melamine to the milk to boost nitrogen levels, which would falsely increase protein readings to pass tests.” Furthermore, Xinhua reported that the melamine might have been present in Sanlu’s formula since late 2007. Why was this permitted for so long? Fear of losing reputations and profits of course. Finally the New Zealand government discovered that the contamination was actually coming from Fonterra, a minority shareholder in Sanlu. Reports state that Fonterra had been attempting to persuade Sanlu to stop the production of the formula and form a recall, but the company did not comply. A quick and smart decision by New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Helen Clark, to blow the whistle alerted the Chinese government to take action.
This is truly an example of a country sweeping its faults and mistakes under the rug in order to look perfect and make money to benefit their economy. It is sad that the counts of ill and dying babies is only feared to rise and all the giant corporations can do is apologize. Well a simply apology is not going to bring those 6,244 babies back to perfect health or the three back to life. Governments are not in place to harm, kill or destroy. Their purpose should be to protect and foster growth – where did they misunderstand? It is mind-boggling where they thought this was acceptable. The companies and individuals must be punished for their careless and negligent actions.