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Melamine in milk products in China: Examining the factors that led to deliberate use of the contaminant

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  • Xiu, Changbai
  • Klein, K.K.
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    Abstract

    On September 11, 2008, the Chinese government announced a recall of infant milk powder that was tainted by melamine, a chemical usually used in plastics. Consumption of melamine caused infants to develop kidney stones which, if left untreated, could cause renal failure and death. More than 290,000 people (most of them infant children) were poisoned and at least six babies are confirmed to have died from ingesting the melamine contaminated infant milk powder. The Chinese government imposed very high penalties on people and companies involved in the melamine scandal, including lifetime prison sentences and even executions. The problems in China's dairy industry were a result of rapid growth fueled by large investments from multinational dairy firms, development of a highly modern and concentrated processing sector that obtained its raw materials from millions of small, poor and uneducated traditional farmers and government support and encouragement for growth but with little emphasis on inspection and safety issues. The melamine crisis prompted the Chinese government to bring in a new food safety law, mandate regular inspections of all companies involved in the food business with no exemptions and set new allowable tolerances for melamine in dairy products.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Food Policy.

    Volume (Year): 35 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 5 (October)
    Pages: 463-470

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:35:y:2010:i:5:p:463-470

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/foodpol

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    Keywords: Dairy Melamine Contamination Food safety Sanitation;

    References

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    1. Hennessy, David A. & Roosen, Jutta & Jensen, Helen H., 2003. "Systemic Failure in the Provision of Safe Food," Staff General Research Papers 2091, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    2. Gale, H. Frederick, Jr. & Hu, Dinghuan, 2009. "Supply Chain Issues in China’s Milk Adulteration Incident," 2009 Conference, August 16-22, 2009, Beijing, China 51613, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    3. Beghin, John C., 2006. "Evolving Dairy Markets in Asia: Recent Findings and Implications," Staff General Research Papers 12506, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    4. Holleran, Erin & Bredahl, Maury E. & Zaibet, Lokman, 1999. "Private incentives for adopting food safety and quality assurance," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(6), pages 669-683, December.
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    Cited by:
    1. Dai, Yunhao & Kong, Dongmin & Wang, Maobin, 2013. "Investor reactions to food safety incidents: Evidence from the Chinese milk industry2We thank Colin Poulton (Managing Editor), two anonymous referees, Martin Qiu, Shasha Liu, and Yan Sheng for helpful," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 23-31.
    2. Scott, Steffanie & Si, Zhenzhong & Schumilas, Theresa & Chen, Aijuan, 2014. "Contradictions in state- and civil society-driven developments in China’s ecological agriculture sector," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 158-166.
    3. Kong, Dongmin, 2012. "Does corporate social responsibility matter in the food industry? Evidence from a nature experiment in China," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 323-334.

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