19 September 2008

Somehow... "more than once"...

...just doesn't seem to quite cover it...

Watching the CTV news the other night and almost fell off my chair when the always politically-correct talking head casually remarked... "China has experienced this sort of thing... more than once."
It was a rapid expansion of a scandal that began with tainted baby formula at a single company and soon spread to 21 other producers. Thousands of frightened parents flooded into Chinese hospitals yesterday to seek medical tests for babies who had consumed the tainted products.

There was growing evidence that Chinese authorities knew of the scandal in early August but failed to announce it publicly for fear of embarrassment during the Beijing Games.

The government did not update its toll of children sickened by the milk powder, but on Wednesday it said more than 6,200 babies were ill, including 1,327 who were still in hospital and 158 with acute kidney failure.

A senior dairy analyst said Chinese farmers were cutting corners to cope with rising costs for feed and labor.

"Before the melamine incident, I know they could have been adding organic stuff, say animal urine or skin," said Chen Lianfang of Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultant Co. "Basically, anything that can boost the protein reading."

But he and others expressed skepticism that so many farmers would know to add melamine to milk. The chemical is not water-soluble and must be mixed with formaldehyde or another chemical before it can be dissolved in milk.

"Farmers can't be well-educated enough to think of melamine," Chen said. "There must be people from chemical companies contacting them and telling them it's a good idea."