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Where can I get my baby’s formula?

By Cai Zhihong (Global Times)

08:41, May 24, 2013

Illustration: Peter. C. Espina/GT

I never expected feeding a baby to be such a challenging job.

As my son's due date approaches, I am starting to worry about the food issue. Not because I don't have money to buy formula with its ever increasing price, but because I really don't know where on earth can I get the safe milk powder.

The 2008 Sanlu milk scandal was just the beginning of a long list that scares parents from using any local brands of infant formula. These fears persist even though the China Dairy Industry Association last month claimed domestic milk powder is better than imported ones in quality and much cheaper in price after it examined 16 domestic brands and nine foreign brands.

Actually, since I have no chance to read the whole report or witness the whole examination, I simply do not believe it. When something let you down, it requires more than a simple announcement to win your trust back.

Thus, buying foreign brands of milk powder becomes most Chinese parents' top option, despite costing more money - and more trouble.

Hong Kong enforced a baby formula regulation this March to prohibit any individual carrying more than two cans of formula to the Chinese mainland. My neighbors told me the other day that their baby formula ordered from overseas was detained by the local post office, because those packages weighed more than 5 kilograms. Apparently, according to their rules, residents can receive packages with formula weighing less than 5 kilograms by paying a certain tax, but packages more than 5 kilograms will be much more difficult to get back. Those weighing more than 10 kilograms will be directly returned to the overseas sender. Formula packages are piled up in many post offices and take the staff months to clear up, my neighbors said.

And let me tell you, 5 kilograms of formula can only feed a baby for about six weeks, and the child needs about 45 kilograms for the first year. So if I order them online, I have to split my order into 9 shipments with 9 different addresses and names. Even then, don't be too optimistic; it's still not legal and the customs restrictions change all the time.

I hate asking friends for help, but I really had no other options. So I called all my friends in the US whom I got acquainted with during my studies there to bring the milk powder to China. So far, I have enough formula to feed my unborn son for about two months.

One of the friends teased me about it, "Why on earth would you want to come back to a place that doesn't have safe baby formula?" I did not say anything to my friend, but I do have suggestions to say to our government: please eliminate baby formula import taxes and lift up the quantity of the imported milk powder to 40 kilograms per person. Then invite more foreign brands like Similac (US) and Aptamil (Germany) to open branches in China. Why? Nothing is more important than a baby's health.

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Frank at 2013-05-2427.115.93.*
Nothing is more important than a baby"s health.

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