Poison Milk Threat in China, Again

December 30, 2011 Updated: December 31, 2011
A Filipino laboratory technician prepares to test Chinese milk products
A Filipino laboratory technician prepares to test Chinese milk products that include Yili (R) and Mengniu (2nd from R) brands at the laboratory of Bureau of Food and Drugs in Manila on September 23, 2008. (Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images)

Another poison milk threat has surfaced in China. This time the Chinese public seems more determined to protect itself from harm. Chinese netizens have been calling for a boycott of China’s largest milk producer, Mengniu Dairy Co., after excessive levels of a carcinogen were detected in its milk. But authorities have issued a reporting ban.

On Dec. 24, China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (GAQSIQ) released the results of liquid milk products testing carried out in October. They showed that excessive levels of aflatoxin were discovered in two batches of milk products made by Mengniu Dairy and the Fujian-based Changfu Dairy.

The official tests found one batch of a 250 ml pack of pure milk produced by Mengniu on Oct. 18 containing 1.4 times the permitted level for aflatoxin M1, and another batch made by Changfu containing 80 percent higher than the permitted level.

On Dec. 26, GAQSIQ said on its website that moldy feed was the cause of the high aflatoxin levels in the milk of the two companies.

Aflatoxin is among the most carcinogenic substances, and long-term consumption can induce liver cancer and gastrointestinal malignancies.

The Chinese regime’s Central Propaganda Department issued a general reporting ban, saying only the “authoritative” state media are allowed to report on the issue, according to a microblog message that was quickly deleted by authorities but was posted by an editor of 21 Century Business Herald.

Chinese consumers responded with outrage, especially because the GAQSIQ had withheld the test results for two months.

Dr. Yun Wuxin, a Purdue University graduate with a degree in Food Science,said on the Weibo microblog that aflatoxin testing has long been a routine test for dairy products. The fact that Mengniu milk failed this test by 140 percent indicates potentially huge manufacturing and quality control problems.

A professor, who used to inspect milk and other food products in China, told The Epoch Times on condition of anonymity that China’s standard limit for aflatoxin in milk is less than 0.5 milligram per kilogram, and if a batch of raw milk exceeded this level, it should not have been packaged and sold. The two batches of tainted milk must have not been tested during production, he said.

China Mengniu Dairy Company Ltd milk products
Mengniu Dairy Company Ltd milk products are seen during a press conference as the company presented their 2008 annual results in Hong Kong on April 16, 2009. After a recent announcement of high toxin levels in a batch of Mengniu's milk, Chinese netizens have called for a boycott of the company. (Mike Clarke/AFP/Getty Images)

Mengniu Company admitted the “mistake” and said the batch of tainted milk had been destroyed and had not been distributed to the markets. It also apologized to the public.

In recent years, Mengniu has been plagued by multiple scandals and has apologized many times: in 2008 for the Melamine milk scandal, in 2009 for adding osteoblast milk protein to its milk products, and in November 2011 for excessive amounts of E. Coli in its chocolate ice cream.

Yet, Chinese consumers and some media were doubtful about the company’s claims and apologies.

Chinese media has been blasting Mengniu. “The most important task is not to apologize and not to fix public relations. Instead, Mengniu must be responsible and put consumers’ health first,” Jinan Daily said.

“Is there anyone who believes in the apology? Honesty is lacking. It is merely a PR move,” Guangming Daily said.

Some Chinese netizens have called on people to boycott Mengniu’s products, and tens of thousands of people expressed their support online.

One blogger wrote that Mengniu has had multiple scandals, and apologies just won’t cut it. His family will stop consuming Mengniu’s milk products from now on.

Another blogger said Mengniu has no conscience and has shown neither remorse nor made amends after repeatedly making mistakes. The best charity Mingniu could offer is to stop producing milk products.

Another netizen wrote: “If a country cannot provide its people with the most fundamental things, what else can be expected?”

Mingniu’s stocks dropped 24 percent in Hong Kong trading on Dec. 28, suffering the biggest loss since September 2008.