The above video clip shows what Lu Minfang, CEO of China Mengniu Dairy Company Limited, said in an interview in July 2019: “China’s infant formula meets the highest quality requirement in the world. You can see that the infant formula’s requirements of EU and US are now moving close to China’s requirements. Sure everybody is trying to access the large Chinese market; on the other hand, our regulation is indeed stricter.”
Lu Minfang’s statement is misleading. Consumers can find the detailed information with regards to safety, nutrition and regulation of infant formula on USFDA and EU’s websites to compare with China’s National Food Standard for Infant Formula. The numbers are not much different. For instance, per EU standard, infant formula manufactured from cows’ milk or goats’ milk protein must be present in an amount not to exceed 2.59 grams per 100 kilocalories and not less than 1.83 grams per 100 kilocalories, whereas USFDA requires maximum 4.5 grams per 100 kilocalories and minimum 1.8 grams per 100 kilocalories regardless of quality and China requires maximum 2.93 grams per 100 kilocalories and minimum 1.88 grams respectively.
EU and the U.S. are not revising their standard and requirements to move close to China’s ones, they simply adapt the foreign country’s requirements to make sure their infant formula meets the specification of the foreign purchaser and does not conflict with the laws of the country to which it is intended for export. USFDA requires its exporter to provide the label of the products intended for export only.
As to Chinese government’s regulation, it is not a secret that China’s export regulations are relatively stricter than domestic goods regulations. Manufacturers and regulation and law enforcement are aware of the legal consequences of exporting defective goods and would take export business seriously, however the domestic goods are not that fortunate. Most private companies are not able to receive preferential treatment, i.e., tax incentives, commercial loan, etc., as state-owned companies do and can’t compete with them fairly. Especially the food industry has the lowest profit margin and private manufacturers do everything to lower the cost and to maximize the profit even in an unethical way. The corrupted regulation agencies tolerate it, thus the counterfeit products of every industry keep popping out every corner.
You may still remember the toxic milk scandal in 2008 in China, when then milk powder giant Sanlu and some other Chinese diary companies deliberately added a low cost chemical compound called melamine, used in plastic and fertilizer, into infant formula to increase the nitrogen content of the milk to make it appear to be protein-rich, which directly killed six children and sickened 294,000. Two men were sentenced to death for their role in the scandal, while then director of the Food Safety Coordination Department of China National Food and Drug Administration, Sun Xianze received only demerit penalty with 12 months duration in March 2009. Ironically he was transferred within a year to be in charge of Drug Safety Coordination Department. In the following few years his political correctness and making the “right friends” made him rise quickly to be the deputy director in charge of National Food and Drug Administration. Unfortunately during his tenure as the deputy director, the infamous faulty vaccine scandal broke in 2018.
Far before the confidence of consumers in diary products could be restored, another fake infant formula scandal occurred in the city of Chenzhou in China’s Hunan province with its first case exposed in 2019. According to the local officials investigating this matter, the milk powder brand Bei An Min is merely a drink instead of a “special formula” for infants who are allergic to regular baby formula. The involved parties were fined minimually, and no serious legal consequences were reported from the authorities.
It is devastating to see the pictures of the victimized big-headed babies and toddlers given the drink without sufficient nutrients which affected bone development permanently. They displayed symptoms such as pain, rash, poor growth and even intellectual disability.
People are desperate to find out why the infant formula scandals kept happening over and over again, what went wrong and how. Is China’s standard for infant formula including formula for special medical purposes too low? Are unethical merchants acting out of greed? Are Chinese communist party’s regulations of infant formula too relaxed? Or is it a combination of everything?
Under the Chinese Communist Party’s ruling, there is no respect for life, no fear of God’s punishment for sins and nothing but money matters to them. Nothing will prevent the similar scandals and tragedies from happening again unless the malignant tumor of CCP is removed before it metastasizes, and a new, fair society with rule of law and supervision by people is established. Our dream will come true!
Cover photo: https://www.scmp.com/business/companies/article/3051808/foreign-brands-still-dominate-parents-do-not-trust-chinas-home