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Domestic milk quality at ‘record high’: trade body

By Tu Lei (Global Times)

08:22, May 29, 2012

China Dairy Industry Association has claimed that the quality of home-made dairy products has "hit a record high," but insiders yesterday expressed doubts about the claim, and said it will still take time to rebuild consumer confidence.

Song Kungang, chairman of the association, said at a forum in Beijing on Sunday that "the Chinese dairy industry has undergone fundamental changes" since the melamine scandal four years ago, Beijing Evening News reported yesterday. Song said that 99 percent of test samples of dairy products met national standards.

"At present, the quality of domestic dairy products, especially infant formula milk powder, is the best in history, and consumers can buy with confidence," Song was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

Song attributed the improvements to a revised infant milk powder standard, enhanced milk source quality, advanced processing equipment and stricter regulations.

However, Wang Dingmian, former vice-chairman of the Guangdong Provincial Dairy Association, yesterday told the Global Times that the China Dairy Industry Association had not disclosed how the milk products were tested or who conducted the tests.

"The claim of record high quality is one-sided," Wang said. "In fact, the milk quality in the 1990s was much better than at present."

According to Wang, the milk sources in some regions still have quality problems, whether during production or transportation.

Large enterprises tend to offer low prices for milk, which squeezes dairy farmers' profits, Wang said. This sometimes means that farmers will cut corners and sell milk even if there are quality problems with it.

"The urgent task is not to expand the market, but to rebuild consumer confidence. This should start from guaranteeing the milk source quality," Wang noted.

China's consumers are facing a dilemma as scandals involving home-made milk products continue to emerge, while imported milk brands have raised prices in recent months.

On Thursday, rumors spread online that a branch of China Mengniu Dairy Co had put cow urine in its milk. Mengniu's share price closed down by 1.93 percent at HK$20.3 ($2.62) yesterday in Hong Kong.

As the International Children's Day is due Friday, "Mengniu owes a big apology to its fellow Chinese," Li Chengpeng, a famous sports commentator, wrote on his Sina Weibo yesterday, referring to the melamine milk scandal that injured thousands of children in 2008.

"I fully support boycotting Mengniu," Li said.

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