Just a week before the Sanlu Group scandal came to light, the mainland's media was lavishing praise on the company and had recommended its milk powder to the nation's millions of consumers.
On September 2, Weekly Quality Report - a popular investigative report programme by China Central Television (CCTV) - hailed Sanlu as a role model for national industry and a shining example of a manufacturer of high quality and safe products.
The CCTV programme singled out Sanlu for praise in the first episode of its Made in China series, aimed at showcasing the country's high-quality domestic brands. The series was made to dispel worries over substandard Chinese products which have become a global as well as domestic concern.
CCTV said it had sent 'undercover reporters' to Sanlu Group in August to investigate the company's production process.
The report said reporters were impressed by what they saw and praised Sanlu for its scientific management and quality control.
The CCTV report said each milk product has to undergo '1,100' quality checks before they were sent to the market. The reporters also visited Sanlu's dairy farm in Shijiazhuang and were equally thrilled by what they saw there.
'Each cow has its own computer file to keep records of its progeny, immunisation and milk production. Chinese medicine is used to treat diseases instead of antibiotics. The most advanced nutritional technologies were used to maximise productivity', the report said.
The CCTV reporter then inspected two randomly-picked milk supply centres and observed how Sanlu employees tested the fresh milk they collected before processing it into milk formula.
The inspector measured freshness, nutritional levels, bacterial content and other hygiene indicators. There were 33 items on the list and the milk was accepted only if it passed all tests.
The CCTV reporters also visited five other farms and two other factories and found similar results.
The programme concluded that Sanlu had lived up to its claim of stringent quality controls and said it was little wonder the company was a market leader.
Wang Yuliang, deputy chairman of Sanlu, told the programme: 'Product quality means the lives of our babies. Sanlu's mission is to guarantee each package of its products is safe.'
In January, Sanlu infant formula received the National Science and Technology Progress Award - the first time a dairy product had won the prize since the award was established 20 years ago.