Melamine Milk Update

UPDATED UPDATE: Two men have been served a death sentence for their involvement in China’s melamine contaminated milk scandal. The former boss of the Sanlu dairy at the centre of the scandal was given life imprisonment. 19 other sentences handed down by the court in northern China, where Sanlu is based, are of lower severity.

More than 200 families whose babies were hospitalised after drinking infant milk formula tainted with the industrial chemical melamine are taking their case to China’s highest court after being repeatedly ignored by lower courts, according to an AP report.

An earlier report revealed that the parents of an infant who died after drinking melamine milk have been paid 200,000 yuan (about $30,000) in compensation by the dairy company at the heart of the scandal, New Zealand owned Sanlu.

A report from Reuters says that the contaminated milk powder killed at least six children and sickened almost 300,000 last year. Many parents whose children were affected are hoping those responsible for the contamination will face the death penalty.

Now that the scandal is not so prominent in the media, investors are moving back in on China, Farming UK reports that Henry George Roberts company KKR & Co intend to invest US$100 million into the dairy industry in China. “Investing in China’s largest producer and distributor of fresh milk, the American company are gambling on the recent melamine scandal being behind them,” the magazine says. “The recent scandal in China over the use of melamine in milk, to raise the protein levels, has seen the values in the industry plummet.”

Reuters and others report that China now plans to impose production controls on melamine so that the melamine in milk scandal may never happen again. At the height of the debacle hundreds of products, not just infant formula, on supermarket shelves across the globe were tainted with the “Made in China” label. Thousands of visitors to the Sciencebase site over the last few months have arrived to get more information as the story unfolded. I will report on any subsequent developments as soon as they happen.

5 thoughts on “Melamine Milk Update”

  1. My take on antioxidants is that scientists view them as protective against free radical damage which seems connected to cancer formation. I feel excessive omega-6 vegetable oils consumption coupled with high consumption of refined carbohydrates and nutrient deficient animal products (mostly the fat soluble vitamins and and omega-3 fats) is what gives rise to cancers of many sorts. Reducing sunlight exposure exacerbates the problem. It might interest you to know that I’ve been taking 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 for several years. In summer I’m noticeably more immune to sunburn.

    Sorry to go down rabbit trails but you mention matters I care deeply about that are poorly understood by mainstream nutrition science with it’s reductionist mindset. You’ll see what I mean if you read “Food for Nought.”

    After 30 years of trying to resolve nutritional controversy, with what I know about nutrition at this point and practice in my personal habits it seems highly unlikely that I will ever develop cancer or heart disease. However, each of us must play the hand he’s dealt. Biochemical and physiological makeup being determinants in ones ultimate fate, one can never be certain that one’s nutrition is adequate enough and appropriate enough to guarantee a disease-free life.

    Thanks for an interesting blog.
    Dave

  2. Dr. Hall’s book is important and relevant, in this case, because he has examined the economic, sociological, and political factors that that allow tragedies such as the melamine debacle to occur. But adulteration is only the tip of the iceberg where industrialized food and human health are concerned. The Chinese are copying American methods of industrial dairy production. That is such a big mistake!

    As for the fat/carb controversy, it could have been resolved 40 years ago if 1) there had been money available for fructose research and 2) prominent scientists had investigated the matter.

    Recent progress in both scientific investigation and public understanding of the fructose issue is making the Corn Refiners Association extremely nervous. See: http://nutritionscienceanalyst.blogspot.com/2009/01/excessive-fructose-consumption-major.html

  3. Is there any direct relevance to the melamine controversy in Hume Hall’s 1973 book? There most certainly remains controversy over which is worse – fats or carbs – despite the received wisdom, but the addition of melamine to formula milk was not a failure on the part of manufacturers to understand the nutritional aspects of their product, it was straightforward fraud.

  4. David, I urge you read “Food for Nought” by Ross Hume Hall, PhD. The book furnishes excellent commentary and historical perspective on the damage to human health due to the misuse of the chemistry by agribusiness and the food manufacturing industry. Also discussed is the failure of both government and academia to monitor developing chemical technologies and assess secondary effects.

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