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Court orders release of records of lax dairy rule

(Shanghai Daily)

10:31, October 23, 2012

A BEIJING court has ordered the Ministry of Health to publicize the notes of meetings at which the country's controversial new dairy product standards were written.

The move at Beijing No.1 Intermediate People's Court came after a lawsuit against the ministry amidst accusations that the standards were hijacked by dairy manufacturers and made more lax, a newspaper reported yesterday.

The standards, expected to impose stricter limits on the amount of bacteria in raw milk, raised the maximum to two million cells per milliliter from 500,000 adopted in the old standard. The new maximum safety limit for bacteria in raw milk was 20 times higher than that in Europe and the United States.

The ministry also lowered the minimum protein content to 2.8 grams per 100 grams of milk from 2.9 grams. In Europe, the protein content should be no less than 3 grams per 100 grams in dairy products.

Zhao Zhengjun, a man from Zhengzhou, capital of central Henan Province, filed a lawsuit against the health authority in February, requesting the ministry to respond to the "hijacked standards" accusation by making all drafts documents public, the Dahe Newspaper reported yesterday.

He filed an application with the ministry in writing in December but was rejected. The ministry said the information cannot be made public because it may "affect social stability and add burdens to administrative management work."

Wang Dingmian, director of the Guangdong Provincial Dairy Association, called the standard "a shame on the whole industry."

One expert said the standards were drafted by some domestic dairy manufacturers. "China Mengniu Dairy Co Ltd drafted the standard for pasteurized milk, the Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co Ltd drafted the standard for raw milk, while the Bright Dairy did that for yogurt," Zeng Shouying said.
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