The Chinese Health Ministry confirms that there remain an unbelievable 10,700 children hospitalized in China after drinking <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/toxic_substances">melamine-laced milk, reports the Associated Press (AP).Â As a result, increased inspections have become but one of the new safety measures implemented during Chinaâ€™s massive and ongoing tainted milk crisis.Â â€œThey (government regulators) have tightened quality control and the farmers understand that.Â The farmers know they have to feed their cows well and not give them antibiotics or other things,â€ said one of the inspectors. â€œNowadays weâ€™re a lot stricter.â€
In addition to the thousands hospitalized, four babies have died and 54,000 others have been sickened after consuming milk laced with the industrial chemical melamine.Â This week, Chinaâ€™s government pledged to overhaul the troubled industry by monitoring every link in the supply chain that brings milk from farms to family kitchens, said the AP.Â The new policies are focusing on the bottom of the supply chain, farms where raw milk is obtained.Â An estimated 80 percent of all milk comes from small farmers who sell it to milk collection stations, which then sell the milk to dairy companies.
Unfortunately, government testing reveals melamine contamination to be widespread, with one-fifth of the countryâ€™s dairy companies implicated, including its largest and most reputable names.Â Investigators also confirm that milk suppliers, in attempts to increase profits, watered down the milk and then added melamine to make it appear to meet protein standards.Â Melamine, like protein, is high in nitrogen, which is what quality tests measure.Â When added to food productsâ€”such as watered-down milkâ€”melamine creates the false appearance of high protein levels.
The China dairy industry has been steadily booming as that country worked â€œto construct the worldâ€™s milk capital and make an international brand.â€Â But this recent tainting crisis has seriously and adversely affected Chinaâ€™s small farmers who are now forced to dump milk the dairy companies will not buy, while still paying for expensive feed for their animals.Â Also, farmers say they have not yet received any of the emergency subsidies promised by the government; the new regulationsâ€”being enforced by some 5,000 government inspectorsâ€”have imposed increased costs to maintain milk cows.Â The inspectors have been dispatched to provide 24-hour supervision over the dairy industry and government inspectors are posted at all of Chinaâ€™s dairy factories.
Li Chunlan, 41, who owns a milk collection station said that she feels honest suppliers have to pay for the inappropriate actions of a few unscrupulous operators.Â â€œIf the government had taken measures earlier, then there wouldnâ€™t be such an incident like this,â€ she said. â€œThe problem has been the lack of controls and inconsistent quality. Itâ€™s existed for a long time.Â I just worry about what happens when the inspectors leave.â€
Melamine is used to make plastics, fertilizer, and fire retardants and is known to cause kidney stones and can lead to kidney failure.Â Melamine-contaminated food products emerging out of China include tainted milk, ice cream, yogurt, candy, cheese, and dairy drinks, to name just some.