10/01/2008

[Reprint]AFP: China covered up milk scare to protect Olympics: critics

China covered up milk scare to protect Olympics: critics

4 hours ago

BEIJING (AFP) — China knew about the contamination of milk products months ago but covered the scandal up to prevent it tarnishing the Beijing Olympics, according to journalists, rights groups and media critics.

The crisis broke in mid-September, a month after the Olympics, but several Chinese reporters had long known about babies being hospitalised after drinking tainted milk, yet were muzzled by the authorities, the critics say.

An editor at a respected southern China newspaper said that as early as July one of his reporters was investigating how milk powder might have been to blame for children developing kidney stones and falling seriously sick.

"As a news editor, I was deeply concerned because I sensed that this was going to be a huge public health disaster," Southern Weekend news editor Fu Jianfeng said on his blog.

"But I could not send any reporters out to investigate. Therefore, I harboured a deep sense of guilt and defeat at the time."

Fu's blog posting was later removed, although it could be read on some overseas Chinese websites. Fu himself could not be reached for comment.

An estimated 53,000 Chinese children have been sickened after the industrial chemical melamine was added to milk products, and four infants have died.

The first of the baby deaths was on May 1, more than four months before the scandal went public.

Starting with Sanlu milk powder, the scare has gone on to envelop numerous Chinese firms and international companies operating in China, including global giants Cadbury and Unilever.

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao vowed over the weekend to work to restore his country's reputation, saying it was facing the problem "candidly".

However, there are claims that Chinese authorities reverted to the familiar practice of squashing the negative news reports, apparently conscious of the damage it would do to the August 8-24 Olympics.

"Several Chinese journalists have said it is becoming more and more obvious that the authorities in July prevented an investigation into the toxic milk coming out so as not to tarnish China's image before the Olympics," said a statement by media rights group Reporters Without Borders.

Sanlu Group began receiving complaints of sick children as early as last December, a recent cabinet probe found in an apparent attempt to shift the blame for the delay.

It also said Communist officials in the northern city of Shijiazhuang, where Sanlu is based, delayed referring the matter to higher authorities for more than a month after Sanlu finally told them of the problem on August 2, six days before the Beijing Games began.

"It is a concern that the first cases appeared early, but were concealed during the Olympics. A perfect environment was needed for the Games," said a Western product-safety expert who asked not to be named.

Despite the World Health Organisation and United Nations raising concerns about the delay in exposing the risks, rights groups say the Chinese government is continuing to silence reporters, suppressing media coverage vital to determining blame and preventing a recurrence.

"The government's gag order on the media has the effect of shielding those responsible for the tainted milk from accountability," Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a network of domestic and foreign rights activists, said in an emailed report.

It cited several instances of reporting by Chinese media censored or banned by authorities. The instances could not be confirmed by AFP.

The Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists last week also criticised China for "escalated restrictions" on reporting on the scandal.

It said propaganda authorities had expelled journalists from at least four Chinese newspapers in the same city as Sanlu's headquarters.

It also said authorities had deleted articles on the case from news websites and insisted on pre-approving related articles.

"China's Central Propaganda Department's attempts to control the media's reporting of a very serious public health crisis can only serve to heighten fears," the IFJ said.

"A free flow of information through a free media is vital where lives are at stake, and government restrictions on journalists may be endangering public health."

China has blamed the scandal largely on milk brokers adding melamine to boost milk protein readings.

福禄祯祥:三聚氰胺污染奶粉致婴幼儿死亡事件专题

人民日报:三鹿恳请石家庄市政府管控媒体

据报道,三鹿公司在得知奶粉被污染后,曾请示石家庄市政府“加强媒体的管控和协调,给企业召回存在问题产品创造一个良好环境,避免炒作此事给社会造成一系列的负面影响”。石家庄市政府“就请示提出的问题作出了处理。”毒奶粉事件曝光前,石家庄市政府曾协助三鹿悄悄回收了市场上90%的毒奶粉。

据今日《人民日报》报道,石家庄市政府副秘书长、市政府新闻发言人王建国说,8月2日,石家庄市政府领导接到三鹿集团股份有限公司《关于消费者食用三鹿部分婴幼儿配方奶粉出现肾结石等病症的请示》,称“怀疑三聚氰胺来源可能是所收购的原料奶中不法奶户非法添加所致,恳请市政府帮助解决两个问题,一是请政府有关职能部门严查原料奶质量,对投放三聚氰胺等有害物质的犯罪分子采取法律措施;二是请政府加强媒体的管控和协调,给企业召回存在问题产品创造一个良好环境,避免炒作此事给社会造成一系列的负面影响”。

王建国说,石家庄市政府“只就请示提出的问题作出了处理。”直到9月9日,才向河北省政府报告。

报道中只提到石家庄市政府曾协助三鹿回收毒奶粉,到9月10日,累计收回奶粉8210吨,封存2176吨,约占市场总量的90%。

但报道并未提及石家庄市政府是如何应三鹿请求“加强媒体的管控和协调”的。

王建国总结这次毒奶粉事件的教训时,首先提到的是石家庄市政府“缺乏政治上的敏感性”。王建国说,石家庄市政府“政治上敏感性差,对事故缺乏政治上的敏感性,没有上升到事关全局的、事关人民群众生命健康的高度去认识,去看待三鹿集团反映的问题。”

看石家庄市政府的逻辑,政治敏感性和大局比人民群众的生命健康更重要。很显然,政府与毒奶粉厂家狼狈为奸,草菅人命。

人民日报:石家庄市政府新闻发言人——三鹿奶粉事件为何迟报
福禄祯祥:三聚氰胺污染奶粉致婴幼儿死亡事件专题

国家质检总局:光明、雅士利、伊利、蒙牛普通奶粉也含三聚氰胺

9月30日,国家质检总局公布了对普通奶粉和其他配方奶粉三聚氰胺专项检测的结果。检测显示,除三鹿的不少批次产品含有大量三聚氰胺外,南山、光明、雅士利、伊利和蒙牛的个别批次也含三聚氰胺。此外,北京三元集团下属的迁安三元食品有限公司生产的乳粉中也检测出了三聚氰胺。

目前,全国约有290家普通奶粉和其他配方奶粉生产企业,这次共抽检了154家企业9月14日前生产的265个批次产品,检出的三聚氰胺涉及20家企业的31个批次产品。

由于三元奶产品在此前几次抽检中均未检出三聚氰胺,这次却有一个批次的产品被检出,因此备受关注。30日晚,三元集团公关宣传部负责人付先生对《新京报》说,尚未接到有关抽检结果的信息,集团会对此进行调查了解。

南山、光明、雅士利、伊利、迁安三元、蒙牛被国家质检总局检测出含三聚氰胺的具体批次[依次为,生产企业、产品名称、规格型号、商标、生产日期/批次、三聚氰胺(mg/kg)]

湖南培益乳业有限公司 中老年高纤高钙配方奶粉400g/袋 南山 2008-9-8 5624
湖南亚华控股集团股份有限公司南山绿色食品开发公司 中老年高纤高钙配方奶粉900g/听南山 2008-9-11 3700
南山绿色食品开发分公司 中老年高纤高钙配方奶粉400克/包 南山 2008-06-23 2200

黑龙江省光明松鹤乳品有限责任公司 香浓全脂奶粉400g/袋 光明20080709 04 02 140

广东雅士利集团股份有限公司 中小学生特殊配方奶粉400克/包 雅士利2008-07-15 94.6
广东雅士利集团有限公司 女士特殊配方奶粉400克/包 雅士利2008-06-03 19.2
广东雅士利集团股份有限公司 优怡女士特殊配方奶粉400g/袋 雅士利2008-7-9 3.05

内蒙古伊利实业集团股份有限公司 中老年多维高钙奶粉400克/袋 伊利20080505 112B820 25.7

迁安三元食品有限公司 乳粉2008.8.7 10.58

内蒙古蒙牛阿拉乳制品有限责任公司 金装女士多维高钙高铁奶粉400g/袋 蒙牛2008-8-21 6.0


国家质检总局:对普通奶粉和其他配方奶粉三聚氰胺专项检测情况
福禄祯祥:三聚氰胺污染奶粉致婴幼儿死亡事件专题