Thursday, September 18, 2008

Bad Milk

Maybe you've been following the latest scare from China? It seems that much of this country's infant formula has been recalled because a milk supplier added the chemical melamine to his watered-down milk in an effort to make more money off less milk. A couple of brothers have been arrested: if found guilty, they'll likely be executed shortly. But that won't help the parents of the babies who have already died - at least three so far - or those whose babies have fallen ill.

Even though we live in China, these stories don't always affect me, because I buy a lot of imported goods. Milk, for example. I've been buying the imported long-life milk since we arrived, just because I've been concerned about the safety of the local milk. I also buy a rather expensive but extremely tasty locally produced organic drinkable yogurt, which the kids love, whenever I can find it.

In looking over the list of suspect products, however, I've found that the Yili brand has been contaminated. Yili makes an inexpensive yogurt that I feed Kyra, every day. She loves it. Scratch that: she loved it. I saw the word Yili in the news and I promptly tossed every last container in the trash.

But you know, I can do that. It's only money, you know? I'd rather throw it in the garbage than read tomorrow that her yogurt made the list of contaminated products. Likely, she hasn't eaten any of the nasty stuff. But it's scary, over here, to get this reminder that we can't always keep ourselves safe.

One Chinese mother was quoted in the news: She has a two month old daughter, and she'd been feeding her daughter the formula. Her doctors sent her to a nearby town to get the baby checked up. And, they said, don't feed her any formula. So the woman has been feeding her daughter water - water! - until they can get to a hospital. She's been trying to buy cow's milk from a neighbor's cow, because she needs to give the baby something to drink besides water.

My biggest worry, here in China, is that someday one of my kids will get sick, and it will be linked back to our time here somehow. The air pollution, the metals in the bathwater, the poisoned milk... what's next?

I'm saying my prayers for those parents of babies who are waiting in line at the hospitals. Even as I pray for the health of my own little ones.


Lynda said... [Reply]

I have the same concern... what have I done, taking my perfectly healthy child from Australia (it doesn't get much cleaner) to dirty ol cairo...insane...
Dreadful business the milk story...

GutsyWriter said... [Reply]

Yes, I've heard a lot about the contaminated milk and poor babies suffering, but on BBC news. Only a 5 second mention on ABC news last night.
I thought of you immediately, when I heard the news.

When we were in Belize in 2005, we used to buy powdered milk from Mexico and Carnation condensed milk for our coffee. Our boys drank 8 gallons of non-fat milk per week in the U.S. before we left, and you can imagine how they felt about powdered milk when we lived on the island of Ambergris Caye. My difficult teenager, 16 at the time, couldn't wait for a glass of fresh milk when he got back to California. See what's good about it, is your kids learn to appreciate simple things when they return home. I know your kids are younger than mine but that's what happened to our family.

Please. Write your own stuff.