Monday, September 22, 2008

Meanwhile, in China

Babies are getting sick, of COURSE you should resign.

China's chief quality supervisor was replaced as the number of children sickened by chemical-tainted milk reached almost 53,000 and countries from Asia to Africa curbed sales of dairy products from the nation.

Li Changjiang resigned after seven years as chief of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, the official Xinhua News Agency said today. Premier Wen Jiabao has ordered an overhaul of the dairy industry after products of 22 companies were found to contain melamine.

Taiwan banned all dairy products from mainland China today, while Marudai Food Co. in Japan and Nestle SA in Hong Kong announced product recalls. The scandal has claimed the lives of four infants and revived concern about the effectiveness of China's food safety controls after scares last year over contaminated seafood, toothpaste and pet food.

``That shows that they're serious,'' said Jim Rice, greater China country manager for Springdale, Arkansas-based Tyson Foods Inc., who has worked with China's food regulator. ``Now this means a new guy with new ideas and maybe a new quality assurance system. It could be a healthy shakeup.''

Wang Yong, former secretary-general of the State Council, China's cabinet, has replaced Li, Xinhua said. Li, 63, is the highest-ranking official to be brought down by the scandal, which has also led to the firing of six officials including the Communist Party chief, mayor and vice mayor of Shijiazhuang city in Hebei province, according to the agency.

The Chinese Communist Party today fired Wu Xianguo, the highest-ranking party representative in Shijiazhuang city, Xinhua said.

China's Ministry of Health said on Sept. 11 it found melamine in baby formula made by Shijiazhuang-based Sanlu Group Co., 43 percent owned by Auckland, New Zealand-based Fonterra Cooperative Group Ltd.

The chemical, used to make plastics and tan leather, can disguise the fact that milk has been diluted by increasing the apparent protein content.

Melamine-tainted milk has been linked to the hospitalization of 12,892 infants and the sickening of another 39,965 babies.

Nestle, the world's largest food company, said today it would comply with a request from the Hong Kong Centre For Food Safety to recall 1 liter catering Dairy Farm UHT pure milk, which isn't sold directly to the public.

In Taiwan, closely held King Car Food Industrial Co. recalled its instant chicken-corn soup, milk tea and Mr. Brown coffee drinks after finding traces of melamine during voluntary tests of products using ingredients imported from mainland China, the island's health ministry said.

This is disastrous for Chinese agriculture, and perhaps even manufacturing. After all the crises stemming from dishonesty and corruption among profit-mad Chinese officials, who on earth is going to trust them any more than they have to? I can just see people nervously eyeing everything in their home that's made in China (which is quite a lot) and wondering what will be next.

The monitor you're looking at right now, for example. Was it made in China? How? By who? Is it leaking toxic chemicals? Do you know? Can you trust those who tell you it's safe? Do THEY know?

Couple that with the decline of the U.S. consumer, and I'm very much concerned about the sustainability of China's growth.

No comments:

Post a Comment