Sanlu Group

Rush to dump tainted baby milk

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 September, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 September, 2008, 12:00am


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Anxious parents flock to shops seeking refunds and alternative powders

Panicked parents have rushed to retailers seeking refunds and replacements for problematic Sanlu milk powder following the news that babies had fallen ill with kidney stones after drinking it.

At a Jingkelong supermarket near Beijing's Chaoyang Park, anxious parents holding their four-month-old son asked staff how to get a refund for the milk powder and choose a replacement.

'My son has been drinking the 400g milk powder as a supplement to the breast milk,' 28-year-old taxi driver Hu Fumin said. 'We were very worried after reading the news, so we came to see about other options.'

His wife added: 'We will take my son to the hospital for a check-up now that we recall that he always cried when we tried to help him pee.'

The couple chose another domestic brand because of the low price but said they would consider buying imported formula if melamine contamination is found to be common in the domestic industry.

A mother due to deliver this month said she had intended to use Sanlu after giving birth but now would find a replacement.

The Sanlu milk powder saleswoman at the supermarket said six customers had talked to her by early in the afternoon about refunds. The suspect products had been removed from shelves.

A customer service officer for the online baby products portal said the website had stopped selling Sanlu products last month but was willing to give refunds. She had handled about 10 refund requests from Sanlu customers.

Rita Ding, a Shanghai advertising executive who, despite describing herself as anti-Japanese, said she had decided before her 16-month-old daughter was born she would feed her with a Japanese milk powder.

'I have no confidence in China's food industry after so many scandals,' she said. 'I am an adult and I can make do with contaminated things, but for my baby daughter, milk powder is everything. I have to use a trustworthy product.'

She said she used Japanese formula because she believed the country enforced stricter food standards and she used only wholly imported products for fear that those processed on the mainland could be problematic.

But those who are less well-off are left with few choices. Shenzhen mother Liu Qing said migrant workers and their babies were victims of the contaminated milk powder because they could not afford more trustworthy products.

'Migrant workers battling record inflation are more likely to buy cheap milk powder like Sanlu,' Ms Liu said. 'But who knows what kind of ingredients the manufacturer has used for milk powder selling at such a cheap price?'

Angry netizens lashed out at Sanlu for producing substandard formula that endangered babies' health and inspection authorities for failing to do their job.

On news portal, more than 44,000 comments were posted on the topic, many demanding that people in the company and inspection officials be severely punished. Some also expressed distrust of the quality of domestically produced goods and said they feared there might be other problematic products that residents consumed on a daily basis but had not yet been exposed.