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Imports jump due to tainted milk scandal

March 10, 2011 at 1:05 AM   |   Comments

BEIJING, March 10 (UPI) -- China, hit by a deadly melamine-tainted milk powder scandal three years ago, now has to import 90 percent of its infant formula needs, an official said.

"Imported infant formula has since (the 2008 scandal) accounted for almost 90 percent of the domestic market," Liu Peizhi, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, told the committee' annual session, China Daily reported Thursday.

Liu said food safety is a global concern faced by money countries. He said China's food safety incidents "were mostly caused by human factors and the rampant use of illegal additives."

In the 2008 tainted milk scandal, about 300,000 Chinese children were sickened and at least six of them died. Two people accused in the scandal were executed.

While Liu said poor government supervision should be blamed for such incidents, he also blamed the backwardness of the industry and comparatively underdeveloped industrialization.

The China Daily said Chinese consumers are caught between not being able to trust the quality of domestic products and unable to easily afford imports.

A 27-year-old man told the newspaper he only buys foreign-made baby formula for his 3-month-old son, even though it cost him an additional $53 a month.

A dairy industry analyst said it will take time to rebuild the domestic industry's reputation.

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