Baby formula food scare

Published on Author christycui

Hong Kong was recently criticized for listing baby formula as a “reserved commodity” and limiting each traveler to export only 1.8 kg per person per day. Anyone who break the rule “can be fined up to half a million Hong Kong dollars and imprisoned for two years.”

In fact, Chinese are stocking up baby formula from all over the world including Australia, Netherlands, Hong Kong and Britain. This is due to the concern over domestic-produced food safety, especially since babies are extremely vulnerable and sensitive to food quality issues. As early as 2008, the Sanlu event resulted in death of six children and illness of thousands of babies. Shortly afterward, scandals of major dairy products completely destructed faith of mainland consumers. Thus, the demand for foreign baby formula skyrocketed.

Read more here:
Baby Milk Restrictions Cause Outrage in Mainland China
Chinese buyers trigger Australian baby milk run

7 Responses to Baby formula food scare

  1. Is there any indication of what the Chinese government might be doing to alleviate these fears of domestic food/health security issues?

    I wonder how long it would take (illnesses, or worse deaths) before purchasers of Chinese baby formula demand greater oversight on food safety.

  2. Given the number of food scares we’ve heard of recently, I imagine the government will need to respond soon to avoid backlash on a global scale.

  3. Could this be a move on China’s part to try to combat population increase? Maybe by making baby formula more difficult to come by it may prevent people from having babies. This may be farfetched but clearly China has a problem on its hands that it needs to deal with.

  4. How can the government do anything? It has low credibility, and so there’s no quick fix. Beijing in general has a hard time implementing policies that require local governments cooperating, as the public in China knows well. Imprisoning a few “showcase” adulterers (of food, that is) does nothing to guarantee dairies and food processors stop adultering food.

    But in the US, too, we had milk scandals in big cities (esp NYC) that lasted for decades and killed many, many babies. In the US case, before refrigeration cows had to be local, and NYC isn’t conducive to that. Plus local government was corrupt. So milk processors would add flour or talcum powder or anything white, and they didn’t use boiled water when they diluted the milk. So diarrhea was rampant, and that kills babies. If you search, it was probably the NYTimes that had a long story on that when the Chinese milk scandal first broke.

  5. The relationship between Hong Kong and China is a very interesting one. Last year, border vehicle rules were loosened to more people could travel to the mainland in their cars. However, as seen this this new formula topic, the laws are still very strict between the two. At first I was extremely confused why something as simply as baby formula was being so heavily restricted against. After further investigation of the topic it made sense though-
    “At its heart, the dispute cast in sharp focus Hong Kong’s fear of being swamped by 1.3 billion mainlanders, who are increasingly affluent and mobile. About 30 million Chinese, more than triple
    the territory’s population, visit Hong Kong each year, and they like to shop.” ( LATimes)
    While Hong Kong has to do enact laws to protect citizens, the mainland should do the same and work to provide citizens with more access to necessary goods like formula.

  6. Food safety is not a new issue in China. From daily used oil to baby milk, the food production businesses never run out of creative ways to squeeze more profits out of their products by manipulating the production process and using subpar materials. With the weak government agency regulation over food and corrupt officials, there sure is no quick fix to this huge problem. However, the Chinese public found its own solution, that is to come to Hong Kong where government is much more developed and there is a strong control over food safety. This phenomenal is benefiting Hong Kong economy in some ways but at the same time devastating the relationship between Hong Kong people and Chinese. In the case of baby milk, it has come to the point that Hong Kong babies do not have enough food for themselves. After all, Hong Kong only has a population of 7.5 million and China has 1.3 billion. The supply of Hong Kong baby milk cannot possibly keep up with the demand of Chinese babies. Therefore, Hong Kong government had to intervene and made sure that Hong Kong babies have enough food, which seldom happens. This is an action that would definitely offend the Chinese but has to be taken to protect the interest of Hong Kong people. It has also put Hong Kong into this paradox again, which is to have Chinese spend more to support the GDP but at the same time not to let Chinese deplete certain resources available to Hong Kong people. For years, people in Hong Kong have been developing this negative feeling against the people from their mother country. Geographically speaking, Hong Kong is next to mainland China. However, in terms of culture, affluence, and education, there is a definitely huge gap between Hong Kong people and Chinese, which will take years to reconcile.