Sunday, September 21, 2008

Food Safety Memo: Number of Chinese Children Sickened By Malamine-Contaminated Milk Doubles to Nearly 13,000...and Probably More

Latest breaking news on the issue

The Chinese government's Health Ministry has just posted on its website that the number of children sickened by baby formula tainted with the banned industrial chemical melamine has doubled to nearly 12,900. We suspect there are or will be far more than that since the Communist run and controlled Health Ministry tends to under-report such data whenever a serious public health incident occurs in the nation.

The Health Ministry's website also is reporting more than 80 percent of the 12,892 children hospitalized in recent weeks were 2 years old or younger. Four children have died, the Chinese governmental agency also says on the website posting.

The first case of sickness from the contaminated milk also was identified over the weekend, according to a report from the Associated Press. A three year old girl in Hong Kong developed Kidney Stones after drinking Chinese milk products from the mainland, the Hong Kong government announced. They said she has been released from the hospital.

You can read (the latest) further details on the Chinese milk contamination food safety issue here.

Natural~Specialty Foods Memo thinks this is an important food safety issue globally. Although very little if any Chinese fluid or powdered milk is exported to the western world, Chinese powdered milk products are exported to other Asian countries and developing countries in Africa. So far the one case in Hong Kong is the only reported one outside of mainline China.

In addition to the health of the thousands of Chinese children, which is our primary concern with this food safety issue, it's also important because it's just another in a long list of food safety issues and problems in the last couple years involving Chinese produced food, grocery, per food and non food products such as children's toys.

If it hasn't been clear to global governmental and industry leaders in the past that there's a real problem with food and other products produced in China in terms of safety and quality standards, it should be clear now, with almost 13,000 Chinese children thus far reported sick from drinking milk laced with malamine.

When added to milk, malamine increases the percentage of proteins detected in the milk when tested by governmental authorities. Chinese milk producers are required to have a certain percentage of protein in the milk they sell. Adding the malamine allows for milk to pass those protein percentage thresholds while at the same time allowing the producer to make a higher profit because the cheap chemical malamine increases the protein content of the milk when added.

Nobody has yet said the malamine was added to the milk intentionally. However, although we don't know how it got there -- whether the farmers put it in intentionally despite knowing its effects or that perhaps chemical companies sold it to them and convinced the farmers it would do no harm, for example -- it's clear to us the malamine likely didn't fall into the milk on its own.

The parties responsible for the malamine getting into the milk need to be prosecuted swiftly. If found guilty they also should be made to pay restitution to every single family who's child gets sick from drinking the malamine-laced milk. And to those families who have or will lose children, like the four children who've died thus far -- those responsible should be made to pay restitution in the millions of dollars to each family.

The most serious charges here are murder, after all.

Our thoughts are with the families of those sick children. Milk is considered the most wholesome of beverages regardless of it source or type. In fact it's viewed as more than a beverage. It's the stuff of life -- produced by human woman and female animals to nourish their offspring. That fact gives milk of any kind very strong real and symbolic meaning.

Lacing such a beverage -- the stuff of life -- with malamine is a cruel and senseless thing to do, even if those who did it had no idea it could make children sick or kill them. Ignorance of biology as is ignorance of the law is no excuse.

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