Confidence shaken in foreign milk products

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-08-14 09:45

BEIJING -- About 53.7 percent of survey respondents said their confidence in foreign milk products has been shaken by the Fonterra botulism scare, though another large group remains wary of domestic products, a survey said Tuesday.

Conducted by the China Youth Daily, the survey was based on responses from 6,354 people. About 58.2 percent of respondents believe that Chinese people are "blindly" trusting the qualifications of milk products from foreign brands despite a series of quality problems in recent years.

Toxic bacteria has been found in imported dairy products from New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra. While no infants fell ill after consuming the tainted product, the scandal hurt its reputation among the public.

About 55 percent of those surveyed said they would not buy milk powder products from brands related to the contamination, according to the survey.

However, 43.9 percent still reported having more trust in foreign milk products. Only 10 percent favored domestic products.

Public trust in domestic dairy companies was damaged in 2008, when melamine-tainted milk killed six infants and sickened thousands of others. Domestic products are often considered to have safety problems or to be of poor quality.

But experts said the stereotype is unfounded, as the quality of domestic products has improved greatly in recent years.

While domestic producers need to improve the research and development of trace elements in formula, there is no apparent difference in quality, said professor Zhang Lixiang, deputy dean of the School of Agricultural and Rural Development under Renmin University.

The Chinese government has been strictly regulating the production of baby milk powder products since the 2008 melamine scandal. Besides, domestic products have an advantage in freshness, because they don't have to be transported as far as foreign brands, he said.

Sun Shuxia, an nutrition expert with the China Health Care Association, echoed Zhang, saying the improvement should be recognized by the public.

He also reminded domestic producers to publicize information about their dairy sources, production process and testing results, and to invite public supervision to restore public trust through communication.

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