A Chinese dairy has recalled hundreds of milk cartons that were reportedly tainted with alkaline water, just weeks after the country’s top-selling firm pulled six months worth of infant formula due to mercury contamination.
The dairy industry in China has suffered a number of setbacks in recent years, essentially starting with a series of scandals in 2008 when infant formula and milk powder were contaminated with melamine, an industrial chemical, which killed at least six children and left hundreds of thousands sick.
On Thursday, the Bright Dairy & Food Co. initiated the recall of its Ubest-brand milk products following an investigation on alkaline water in one of the batches, state-owned Global Times reported.
“We have made door-to-door apologies and provided compensation to around 20 consumers who bought the tainted milk,” Gong Yanqi, a spokesperson with the firm, told the Times.
The company accidentally used alkaline water to clean its equipment during production, the newspaper reported. An automatic valve used during the process did not turn on immediately on Monday at a factory near Shanghai, leading to the mixing of the alkaline water with fresh milk.
Around 300 cartons of milk that were sent to nearby markets on Tuesday were tainted, according to the Financial Times. “We deeply apologize for any impact this has had on our customers. From today on, we will strictly strengthen relevant management procedures,” the company said, while lauding consumers and the media for “supervision.”
Consumers on the popular, Twitter-like, Sina Weibo microblogging website complained that the milk emitted a bad smell and had an odd color.
A Chinese netizen, called Josphin, said they mixed purple sweet potatoes into cartons of Ubest milk produced on different dates, noting that one carton of milk turned purple, and the other turned blue.
The netizen posted the photos, on Weibo, of both potato-milk mixtures—with one appearing purple and consistent and the other appearing bright blue mixed with white flakes—using the word “horror!” to describe the situation and urged others, “Please do not consume!”China is infamous for food safety violations, with reports of glow-in-the-dark meat, contaminated cooking oil, and illnesses related to tainted food products. In December 2011, the second-largest Chinese dairy, Mengniu, destroyed products that were tainted with aflatoxin, which can cause serious liver damage when consumed.
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