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Illegal collection of milk alleged
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2009-10-14 08:55

Public fury over suspected illegal milk collections revealed by an online post on Friday has prompted an immediate governmental investigation and an order to crack down on malpractices.

Illegal collection of milk alleged
A photo posted online allegedly shows a worn-out vehicle collecting fresh milk from farmers who ride on three-wheel vehicles in Ningxia Hui autonomous region. 

The Ministry of Agriculture yesterday dispatched an inspection team to Ningxia Hui autonomous region where an illegal fresh milk collection was reported by an online post, according to a written reply to China Daily from the ministry.

"Ningxia Agriculture and Farming Department on Monday sent out two teams to investigate the issue upon the request of the ministry," the statement said.

The photo shows a worn-out vehicle collecting fresh milk from farmers who ride on three-wheel vehicles.

No presence of inspectors or inspecting tools was shown in the picture.

During an ongoing investigation, Wu Guohui, an official in charge of farm inspections for the Qingtongxia Municipal government where the photo was taken, said the "farmers in the photo are individual dairy farmers."

"What they are doing is not up to the standard," he said.

But Wu denied the vehicles collecting liquid milk are from his city.

"After our investigation, the illegal milk collection shown on the photo did not happen in our city," he said.

However, the online photos, if they are real, reflect the return of illegal conduct in the dairy purchasing process after the nationwide crackdown that started last year, said Wang Dingmian, former chairman of the Guangdong Provincial Dairy Association.

But he did not think a crackdown is the solution, because the weak link is the "middleman" - the milk collector - between the farmers and the dairy factories, he added.

Direct transactions between large-scale farming factories and diary producers will eliminate the chances of any wrong doing, he said.

The ministry has put the raw dairy products' quality and safety as a high priority, as it has launched a nationwide monitoring plan to punish those who use illegal addictives. The plan also includes beefed up monitoring and management of milk collecting stations.

The online photo ignited public anger of the tainted dairy products containing melamine, which broke out last year.

The scandal first came to light in milk powder that killed four infants and sickened more than 6,000 others.

Melamine, an industrial chemical normally used in plastics, is believed to have been added to diluted milk to make it appear higher in protein.

The tainted milk scandal has taken its toll on the dairy industry, resulting in a sluggish market, excess raw milk in stock and low purchasing prices.

Ningxia Diary Industry Association Zhao Shuming said the photo is fake and does not represent the real picture of dairy production in the region.

"Do you believe these photos on the Internet?" Zhao said in a telephone interview. "If you believe that, you are wrong."

Source:China Daily 
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