Type: Exploratory
Pages: 6 | Words: 1538
Reading Time: 7 Minutes

Consumption of toxic milk in China and across the globe has led to the death of approximately six children as another 300,000 innocent people suffer from this menace. The leading milk producing and processing firms in China added excessive content of melamine chemical to boost the protein content of its diluted milk. Some children are nursing diseases such as kidney and liver disease, including cancer. This has led to global sanction of milk products from China since many people have suffered from consumption of toxic milk imported from this country. The paper deals with the effects of Chinese toxic milk and its implications on food safety. Specifically, the paper will discuss the causes of the milk toxification, the effects of toxic milk on different people, how the Chinese company came to produce toxic milk and how the incident was reported domestically and overseas.

The problem of food poisoning remains the concern of most consumers on the global consumer markets. As trade goes global and most countries sign trade agreements, protection of the rights of consumers to good health and safety becomes very essential. Production and distribution of high quality consumer products is thus essential. Whereas it is worth mentioning that the Chinese government inspects its production processes, it is also true that production of toxic milk in China remains a serious problem.

Rationale for the Research. In a globally competitive product market, a country must be careful to safeguard the image of its products by maintaining high quality so as to survive. The milk contamination scandal in China was a major food safety issue that concerns many people within and beyond the borders of China. The problem affected so many consumers who use milk as an infant formula. By November 2008, approximately 300, 000 people had become victims of toxic milk from China’s Sanlu Group (Afoakwa 2008, p. 2).

It is apparent that the milk producing Chinese companies have put profit maximization as a priority at the cost of consumer safety and health. It is thus important to investigate the substances that make the milk toxic, effects of this on the consumer, implication of this on international trade in milk products, and interventions that the government of China makes to protect consumers against such perilous scandals.

What Makes the Milk Toxic? The problem of milk poisoning through the addition of toxic substances has hit China’s food industry again (Afoakwa 2008, p. 1-2). Chinese food quality and safety officials are facing scrutiny after another scandal involving production and distribution of toxic milk that is not suitable for human consumption. This toxic milk has led to the death of hundreds of children. The puzzle that many people are struggling to resolve is what made the milk toxic.

According to the authorities responsible for health in the food industry, the milk powder produced by Sanlu Group, the leading milk producer in China, had contamination from melamine. Melamine is a chemical that is often used to make plastics (Afoakwa 2008, p.2). Though it is illegal to use this chemical in food products, Sanlu Group added it to boost the protein content of the milk (Brimer 2011, p. 121). There are claims that the producers often water down the milk that they collect from farmers and adding melamine to conceal the dilution. The combination of dilute milk and melamine is thus responsible for the toxic milk that is distributed throughout China and abroad (Alpas & Cirakoglu 2010, p. 28).

The contamination of milk in China was mainly due to addition of toxic melamine (Afoakwa 2008, p. 3). This is a chemical that is rich in nitrogen. It is mainly used to measure protein levels in plant and animal products. It is used by milk processors and manufacturers to disguise diluted milk. In yet another incident, quality assurance tests revealed that several cartons of milk that Mengniu Dairy Company manufactured had a high level of aflatoxin content M1 (Afoakwa 2008, p. 3). This substance is toxic and causes liver cancer. This toxin originated from contaminated feed that cows that produced milk had consumed.

Effect of the Toxic Milk on different People. Toxic milk produced by the major milk processing firms in China has affected different people in different ways. The incident has affected children, parents, the senior government officials and management of companies. A survey into the consequences of the incident reveals very shocking findings. Afoakwa (2008, p. 3-4) cited that approximately 300,000 babies have been diagnosed with different health complications resulting from consumption of toxic milk products with melamine contents. Six children have, so far, lost their lives after drinking the milk and consuming the infant formula manufactured by Sanlu Group Company.

The parents have been adversely affected after their children consumed China’s toxic milk. For instance, the 300,000 with different health complications have to undergo treatments not at the cost of the company but their parents. Another 860 children got admitted into different hospitals for intensive care and treatment after consuming the toxic milk. Some of the children are suffering from acute kidney failures (Afoakwa 2008, p. 5). This causes financial burden to the parents as well as emotional and psychological torture especially in cases where a couple has only a single child who is also innocently suffering (Bibbs, 2010, p. 57). Some parents have also had to nurse their children who are suffering from kidney stones resulting from ingesting melamine toxic-milk.

The manufacturing, distribution and consumption of toxic milk that left many children with health complications has made some people to be charged with criminal offenses. For example, two people have been prosecuted; one is under suspended death penalty while three others are facing life imprisonment as a result of the incident (Bibbs 2010, p. 86; Coglianese, Finkel & Zaring 2009, p. 89). Further, several government officials, including that Director of the Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine have been coerced to either resign or be fired as a result of the scandal (Yang, Huang, Zhang, Thomas & Pei, 2009, p. 123).

How the Company came to Produce the Toxic Milk. Increased demand for a product with low supplies often lead to a rise in the price of the commodity. In such incidences, the producers must scale up their production levels to match the increasing demand of their products (Alpas & Cirakoglu 2010, p. 28). However, careful considerations must be made to ensure that the increase in supply does not compromise the quality of the products. In order to overcome quality and standardization tests, a company must ensure that the goods produced have satisfactory standard levels (Macartney 2008, p. 47).

Sanlu Group frequently checks the protein levels of its milk. This enables it to identify the amount of nitrogen content in the milk. The company started diluting the milk so as to increase its supply and maximize profit (Afoakwa 2008, p. 3-5). This dilution often reveals lower than normal amounts of nitrogen which does not meet the standardization tests. The company therefore adopted the use of melamine to increase the protein content of its milk so as to get approval from the quality assurance agencies in China. Klein and Xiu (2010, p. 154) cited that chemical melamine allows diluted milk to fool the quality assurance test that it is fine. Sperber and Mortimore (2011, p. 49) cited that the milk was therefore poisoned in the process of trying to disguise and conceal the true amount of protein levels in the Chinese milk by adding melamine. So, as the company continued to make huge profits, more and more consumers suffered (Alpas & Cirakoglu 2010, p. 28).

How Toxic Milk Incident was Reported in China and Overseas. The incident of toxic milk in China was reported differently in China and abroad. The Ministry of Health was the first to identify the problem as suffering children got admitted into public health facilities (Alpas & Cirakoglu 2010, p. 35).The media then published the incident that raised tensions from different people. Parents who had been feeding their children on the infant formula began to suspect that their children were suffering as a result of consuming the toxic milk. The print media, electronic media and the social interaction networks then got actively involved in discussions and debates on the morality of the incident. They actually sensitized parents against use of infant formula from China.

In Philippines, the media picked up the issue of compensation for the havoc that incident caused. The Philippine media has been very vocal about the incident and pushed for the ban of all Chinese dairy products (Gale & Buzby 2009, 47).With poor publicity from the media, Philippines as well as the other bilateral trade partners have banned trade with any Chinese dairy products. In Moscow, Russia and Uruguay the media actively and fervently advocated for sanctioning of Sanlu Group Company for addition of melamine into its milk products to disguise low nitrogen and protein levels of its diluted milk.


The incident of milk poisoning left many lives with terminal illnesses to nurse even as others lost their innocent lives. Although the government has taken action against the firms that were responsible for the immoral act, more investigations need to be done. Detailed investigation would aid formulation of effective mechanisms of quality assurance and monitoring to cushion the consumer against the risks associated with toxic food substances.

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