Baby formula

China to step up monitoring of foreign baby formula sold online

Domestic output to be made safer, with more monitoring of online sales of foreign brands

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 June, 2013, 4:27pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

The State Council says it will step up the monitoring of foreign baby formula sold online and raise the safety standards of domestic dairy products.

Premier Li Keqiang chaired a State Council meeting yesterday that addressed food safety issues associated with mainland-made dairy goods, the State Council said on its website.

It acknowledged  the crisis in consumer confidence over domestic infant formula and said it would nurture quality brands, describing it as an “urgent task”.

The State Council plans to standardise the breeding of dairy cattle and increase the scale of industry players by restructuring dairy corporations. It said formula will be managed as strictly as medicine,  with an  identification, authentication and tracking system so products can be traced back to their source.

It will also  speed up the introduction of a regulatory system for   online sales.  The internet has been a major  source for mainland parents to buy imported formula since  Hong Kong introduced a limit of two tins per person for cross-border travellers  in March. The following month, British retailers  rationed sales of formula milk, blaming a surge in “unofficial exports” to China.

A  task force dedicated to safeguarding the quality of infant formula will be established to strengthen monitoring   through  the entire production chain. There will be a crackdown on unqualified milk collectors, and  corporations producing substandard dairy products would he shut down. 

The central government is also planning to hold dairy corporations responsible for finding sources of high-quality milk,  manufacturing and the provision of  nutrition labels on cans.

Tammy Wei, a Guangzhou mother of a four-year-old daughter, said the measures would not regain the public’s confidence.

“I’m sure merchants and consumers will find other ways to bypass the monitoring of foreign formula,” said Wei, who has been buying  New Zealand-made formula  through online shops. “Even though there are so many measures to step up monitoring, they are never effectively implemented locally.”

Mainland consumers’ confidence in domestic dairy products hit rock bottom in 2008, when formula made by Sanlu Dairy from substandard milk adulterated with melamine, an industrial chemical, killed at least six babies and caused kidney damage in 300,000 others.