Blog: Dean BestThe week that was - China's milk turns sour

Dean Best | 22 September 2008

Things really have turned sour for China's budding - and until now buoyant - dairy sector.

The melamine milk scandal that has engulfed the industry seems to grow bigger by the day; over the weekend, the country's health ministry announced that over 50,000 children across China had been affected by contaminated milk powder. Four deaths have been blamed on the outbreak but many, many thousands of Chinese children have been taken ill, with official figures saying that just under 13,000 kids have been hospitalised, including 104 in a serious condition.

Beijing has promised to overhaul China's dairy sector, pledging to punish those responsible for the melamine contamination, as well as tighten safety and inspection guidelines in the industry.

The question is just how much damage the scandal will do to the country's dairy industry. Last week, with every day that the scandal grew wider, with news that melamine had also found its way into liquid milk and other dairy products, so the damage to the reputation of China's dairy sector grew. Chinese consumers are rightly worried about the safety of their food; that concern has since spread into other parts of Asia, with a slew of countries banning or recalling Chinese milk products.

Once again, for all its economic promise, brand China has been tarnished.


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