China says milk products safe, but restoring consumer confidence takes time

22:58, March 12, 2011      

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The milk products made on the Chinese mainland are trustworthy, Wei Chao'an, vice minister of agriculture, said Saturday, trying to alleviate worries of Chinese parents who resort to overseas tours to buy milk powder for babies.

"The ministry has conducted regular tests on milk products over the past few years, and has not detected melamine or leather hydrolyzed protein," Wei told a press conference on the sidelines of the ongoing parliamentary session.

Wei's comment was in response to a question concerning the safety of China's dairy products, which have been haunted by scandals of melamine-tainted baby formula and "leather milk".

Wei said the quality of China's farm produce is "generally safe", but admitted it still takes time to restore consumer confidence in Chinese milk powder after the melamine-tainted baby formula scandal in 2008, which killed at least six infants and sickened 300,000 children nationwide.

It has been widely reported that Chinese mothers had flocked to Hong Kong, Macao and foreign countries to purchase baby formula milk products after the scandal. Such "milk sweeping" tours even resulted in milk powder supplies in Hong Kong and Macao occasionally running out.

China's imports of milk powder have witnessed strong increase last year, with imported milk powder accounting for a "sizable proportion" in the country's total consumption, Wei said.

He noted the the government will make continuous and all-out efforts to tackle the farm produce quality problems.

As to reports on "leather milk", Wei said it might stem from a case in 2009 when leather hydrolyzed protein was found in some milk drinks in Jinhua City of east China's Zhejiang Province.

The company involved in the "leather milk" scandal, the Chenyuan Dairy Company in Jinhua, had been punished, China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said in a statement last month.

Source: Xinhua

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