Melamine, anyone?

…from the quill of Antisthenes the Younger

On September 11, 2007  Shanghai’s Oriental Morning Post wrote that the Sanlu Group, the dairy corporation’s milk powder is being deliberately adulterated with melamine. Normally used in the manufacture of plastic, melamine does inflate the protein readings of milk products. When consumed, it attacks kidneys and in large doses it can kill babies. Melamine was being added even to the baby formula. Four days later the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine confirmed that and issued a public warning. Its tests showed melamine in 22 Chinese dairy products. Beside Sanlu‘s, Mengniu, Yili and Bright milk was also found to be contaminated. Six infants died and over 294 000 became sick. Then the melamine was found in eggs, poultry, beef, pork, fish and mutton.

The New York Times, not famous for its readiness to offend the Chinese masters, reported that some Chinese citizens were trying to attract the official attention as early as June – and received the treatment expected from the communist dictatorship. The Peking Olympics were imminent and anybody suggesting that China is not the best between heaven and earth was unpatriotic, to say the least. A few dead babies in so many millions? Do not bother the politburo.

In the interest of fairness it has to be pointed out that the Sanlu Group was a joint venture with the New Zealand dairy Fonterra which had 43% share and had three members on the board. They were informed of the problem on the 3rd August, allegedly suggested a public recall, were overruled and did nothing further until after the media exposure. When later challenged they said they had elected to work inside the Chinese system. The Almighty renmibni.

The publicity forced the government to act. They had two company officials executed, jailed another – maybe four, maybe fourteen and established a list of prohibited additives. It was no longer legal to add melamine, insecticides, drain cleaners, formaldehyde and industrial dyes to food. Desperate measure indeed; anything to avoid a scandal during the Olympics, anything to protect China’s image. Profit be damned (for a while).

Some try to excuse the Chinese Communists’ megalomania by the alleged average Asian’s need to “save face”. The vaunted “face” is nothing but euphemism for overblown egos of people unwilling to admit their failings.

Chinese President Hu Jintao defends the China pristine culture and writes in the latest edition of Communist Party’s magazine, Seeking the Truth : “Hostile international powers are strengthening their efforts to Westernise and divide us.”

The sooner the better, some may say, if only for the sake of Chinese babies.

About Antisthenes

A Greek philosopher, a pupil of Socrates. Led a revolt, with Diogenes, against the demands of the city-state and the sophistication of life. Accepted the interrelation of knowledge, virtue, and happiness; and sought the ideal condition for happiness in return to primitivism and self-sufficiency. Rejected all social distinctions as based on convention, scorned orthodox religion as a fabrication of lies, and studied early legends and animal life in order to arrive at a true understanding of natural law. The individual was free and self-sufficient when he was master of his passions, secure in his intelligence, impervious to social or religious demands, and satisfied with the poverty of a mendicant. Needless to say, a person who on the Fog of Chaos adopted the Athenian philosopher's name has nothing whatsoever in common with him.
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16 Responses to Melamine, anyone?

  1. Mouser says:

    The flood of substandard and toxic products from China seems to be unstoppable. Other countries have at least some controls, so the rejects are dumped here. Our politicians stay silent, afraid of the smears of racism and Sino-phobia.

  2. slegnef says:

    Simple solution – Buy Australian

  3. Taurus says:

    Some are scared, some are bought. We will see how many Labor politicians will get directorships, consultant-ships or other positions in the Chinese controlled enterprises after the next elections.

  4. Antisthenes says:

    Mouser, and everybody else should be pleased to learn that The Council of Textile and Fashion Industries of Australia has established a committee to investigate toxic substances found in imported textiles, clothing and footwear. The Canadian exporters must be really getting worried. The committee is to conduct random (one item p.a.?) testing for the presence of dimethylfumerate (DMF), hexavalent chromium, AZO dyes, pesticides, heavy metals and other life-enhancing substances. In the meantime, wash twice everything you buy before wearing it. I am sure that the committee’s report would be ready in a few years time, Chinese politburo permitting.

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  6. Eunice says:

    There is no way to avoid the poisonous asian products. We are doomed. Thank the government.

  7. Estelar says:

    Toxic Chinese produce, toxic products and toxic policies.

  8. Have not says:

    My brother was entirely right. This post truly made my day.

  9. Edgard says:

    How to paraphrase Churchill? Never so many poisoned so many?

  10. Antisthenes says:

    From The Atlantic: “Recently, Jian Guangzhou (@简光洲), one of the most reputed investigative journalists in China, quit the Oriental Daily (@东方早报) and announced he was ending his reporting career. Even though the specific reasons for Jian leaving his job remain unclear, one of his tweets on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter, revealed frustration and desperation behind the decision. “My ten years with the Oriental Daily have been the most precious in my life, which gave me all the sadness and happiness, all the dreams. I suffered and endured everything because of the dream I had. And now, the dream is dead, and I choose to leave. Take care, my brothers!”

    Jian came to fame after a report he published on September 11, 2008, titled “14 infants in Gansu Province are suspected of falling ill with kidney stones because of Sanlu milk powder,” generated a domino effect. Further investigation showed that Sanlu, a widely-trusted brand, added large amounts of melamine, a kind of chemical raw material which is prohibited in food industry, to its products. It turned out that almost all the big brands in China’s milk industry were involved in the illegal enterprise, only differing in the extent, and about 40,000 infants all over the country were affected. Milk pollution is regarded as China’s severest food security scandal in recent years.

    By providing this type of audacious coverage under huge pressure, Jian has come to be perceived by many as the “conscience of China.” This symbolic layer to Jian’s reputation makes his departure rather heartbreaking to many, and has provoked deep pessimism about the future of China’s news media.

    Jian’s resigning is just one of several “personnel earthquakes” that have struck the Oriental Daily in 2012. Founded in 2003, the newspaper has built up a reputation as one of the most important independent, liberal media brands in China, largely through its in-depth investigative coverage and outspoken editorials. This reputation also makes it among the most vulnerable to government censorship.”

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  14. Baikal fish says:

    China can do anything. People are secondary.

  15. Donna Dar says:

    The ideological poison is worse.

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