Sunday, March 20

Milk in China

I first went to China in 2008 - February, (first semester) and enjoyed the experience so much that I returned for the second semester and it was in the July of that year that news of the scandalous milk contamination broke.

It seems that some unscrupulous Chinese businessmen worked out that if they added melamine (plastic) powder to milk powder their profits would increase.  They may have done for a short period, but eventually the damage to many babies was identified.  6 babies died and 54,000 were hospitalised and some 300,000 were affected. There is information here about it.

It was quite a horrifying story.  From that day on, I didn't drink milk in China (until 2016).  I often cooked porridge (often oats from Australia) in my microwave oven, and instead of adding milk, I added honey.  A habit that contiues to this day.  While I don't often have porridge, I did this morning, with my usual honey. Capilano Honey to be precise.

The coffee I drank was Nescafe packet coffee - I trusted Nescafe to put "real milk" in the little capsules which had coffee, milk and sugar in them.  It was the way I trusted to drink coffee in China.

As one can imagine it caused a lot of problems.  To this day, some nearly 8 years later, the Chinese people do not trust Chinese milk.  

I remember at the time that in 2008 there were few milk products in the supermarket shelves.  There was little cheese, I don't recall seeing any/much yoghurt and I didn't buy it if it was there, and we all longed for an Aussie supermarket.  We could travel a little further to the Carrefour supermarket near the Shaoxing railway station (the latter is now a foot massage place!) and as Carrefour is a major French supermarket chain, we could access more European foods including a wider variety of cheese etc.

In recent years we have read about the problems that Australian mothers are experiencing as Chinese buy up the baby milk products here - leaving our shelves empty for the local mothers.  There have been rules put in place to safeguard our supplies here, but still baby milk products end up in China.  I think the supply issue is diminished somewhat at this point.

When my Chinese friends came back to Australia with me, they bought an empty suitcase.  In fact it would have been empty but for the wedding gift I had to bring back to Australia - a huge fluffy rug, which fitted in the suitcase well.  She had bought the suitcase to fill with items to take back to China.  This included baby milk supplies.
As well, there was a raft of vitamins and minerals on her list too.

And so it was that I was at Chemist Warehouse with the young lady on two occasions (the suitcase still had room for more after the first shopping expedition).

It was a hilarious adventure, as I, assisted my a young staff member, tried to find all that was on the shopping list.  There were strange things I had never heard of.  There are restrictions on the milk products - no more than 3 of any one product can be bought at a time, but one can go back the next day and buy 3 more, which we did.

And so it was that a suitcase full of baby milk products and an assortment of other products was taken back to China.  I was amused that the young lady bought quite a few bottles of Liver Detox for her uncles who have drinking problems.


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