Government rules out infant formula outlets

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 May, 2011, 12:00am


The government has ruled out setting up milk powder retail outlets at public hospitals and clinics, insisting that there is a stable supply of baby formula in the city.

Professor Gabriel Leung, undersecretary for food and health, told legislators yesterday that suppliers and shop owners had assured the government the supplies were secure.

Leung said that, as the city was not facing an impending shortage of milk powder, there was no need to set up outlets. The government also had to balance consumers' concerns with its own policy of encouraging breastfeeding.

Leung said that the supply of baby formula increased by 57 per cent between 2008 and 2010, while the number of infants rose just 12 per cent in the same period. He added that the Consumer Council received 123 complaints about the shortage between January and March this year, but only eight complaints were received last month, showing that the situation had improved.

While there might be a shortage of certain brands of baby formula after the earthquake in Japan, feeding infants different brands did not cause them any problems, he said. The government had already explained this to the public.

Leung said some shops were restricting the number of tins of baby formula each customer could buy. Parents are also getting used to placing orders through membership delivery systems, which ensured all members got enough supplies.

Meanwhile, the central government will strengthen laws against trafficking in all goods.

Under a national law amendment which will come into force this week, a person bringing goods worth more than 5,000 yuan (HK$5,975) into the mainland must pay a 20 per cent tax. Those who fail to declare the goods, if caught more than twice a year, will face criminal charges with a maximum penalty of three years in jail. The law will affect people carrying large quantities of baby formula.