Xinjiang's school milk program draws ire of parents and students alike

11:29, July 24, 2011      

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A school milk program launched by the government of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region two years ago has become a headache for parents, as many of their children have voiced dissatisfaction with the taste of the healthy beverage.

"I don't like to drink the school milk, so my mother buys the kind of milk that I like instead," said Zhu Yumeng, a high school student in Urumqi. Zhu said that she had never heard of the brand of milk that the school offers and that her classmates know nothing about it either.

"My child don't drink the school milk at all because of its bad taste. We used the first box of milk to water our flowers," said Haisaier, a resident of Urumqi. "We trust the bigger brands like Xiyuchun and Maiquer, and they do taste good. It feels strange to drink milk from lesser-known companies," she added.

Xinjiang started its school milk program on June 1, 2009. The program provides free milk for students in several counties and cities across the region. Parents are required to use special coupons to exchange for the milk in areas designated by a small group of dairy companies, which has made some of the parents feel as if they have no choice in the matter.

"If we had more choices, we would prefer more well-known brands, rather than ones that have never been heard of," said one parent.

The safety of the milk is another issue raising the parents' concerns, particularly in light of the 2008 tainted milk scandal in which six infants died after consuming milk that was contaminated with an industrial plasticizer.
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