Baby, or infant, formula is a manufactured food for babies often used as a substitute for breast milk. It is a powder or liquid concentrate that is mixed with water and fed through a bottle. It is widely used in Asia, which represents 53% of the global market share. In Hong Kong, a shortage in availability of baby formula led to restrictions on how much could be taken out of the city and into mainland China.
CCTV broadcasts fresh bribery claims against baby formula firm Dumex
CCTV claims staff in Beijing and five provinces bribed to feed product to babies
Chinese state media yesterday broadcast further allegations of bribery against Dumex, a baby formula subsidiary of French food and beverage giant Danone.
CCTV last week quoted a former Dumex sales manager alleging the company had bribed hospital staff in the city of Tianjin to feed its milk powder to newborn babies.
But the television channel yesterday expanded its claims, saying Dumex had paid out nearly 500,000 yuan in bribes in April alone to doctors and nurses in Beijing and five northern provinces - Heilongjiang , Hebei , Liaoning , Jilin , and Inner Mongolia - as well as Tianjin.
It also hinted the investigation may widen further, saying: "The evidence of bribery obtained by the CCTV reporter covers only the northern region, and Dumex operates in six major regions in China."
Dumex said yesterday in an e-mail to the South China Morning Post: "Dumex pays great attention to CCTV's reports. A thorough investigation was launched a few days ago and is ongoing. The report will be available before October 1."
The anonymous whistle-blower provided CCTV with a personal computer used by senior Dumex executives, which contained suspicious data on Dumex's payments to hospital staff.
Some payments were recorded as having been made to "health-care associations", said the source, who claimed: "This is to avoid detection, which is how a special unit in our company taught us to protect ourselves."
Last year, Dumex was the top seller of baby milk powder on the mainland with 5.73 billion yuan of revenue, said CCTV. Danone's website said China accounted for 6 per cent of its sales. The company has 18 factories and 9,216 employees on the mainland.
Last week, Swiss drug firm Novartis said it would investigate allegations that its eye care unit Alcon bribed doctors in China.
Last month, the Shanghai and Beijing city governments and Guangdong authorities began investigations into allegations by an anonymous whistle-blower that French drug giant Sanofi had bribed hospitals. The central government is also investigating British drug giant GlaxoSmithKline, which allegedly paid at least 3 billion yuan in bribes.