Friday, October 3, 2008


Even before the last speck of dust could settle from the devastating Sichuan earthquake and the last round of resounding hand clapping and feet stomping have stopped at the closing ceremony of the recent Olympics, China is once again at the forefront of the world's attention. This time, a scandal that not only threatens the lives of its future generations but those of its neighbours.

When news of mass poisonings from its toxic milk powder spread like wild fire over to Malaysian shores, my sister called me up and asked if she should get rid of all foodstuff that has milk as an ingredient. I don't blame her for going crazy as she still has a 6-year old imp who, occasionally, still finds comfort in the milk bottle. Her little girl threatened to run away if mommy dared throw away her milk powder! After calming them down, I asked mommy to check if the milk powder was manufactured locally or imported from a 'safe' country. She heaved a sigh of relief when she checked and confirmed that it was indeed imported and from a reliable manufacturer. So now, daughter and mommy are both happy. But everything else in the fridge and in the pantry went into the garbage chute : ice-creams, chocolates, cream biscuits, milk wafers and just about anything that looks like it might contain milk and its by products. That's a lot of good money down the chute, if you ask me!

It is reported that thousands of children have been hospitalised with kidney problems after consuming milk formula that was tainted with MELAMINE, a cheap industrial chemical. Apparently, it was used to add more protein properties to ordinary milk powder in a bid to pass quality checks.

Protein is an important nutrient required by our body but an overdose of it(usually from consuming too much meat) can prove hazardous to our health. Too much of it is either converted into fat or excreted through the liver which, when overworked, will turn the excess protein into urea. The kidneys then filters out the urea as well as the protein unprocessed. As a result of this heavy workload on the kidneys, they eventually enlarge and this can cause untold damage. And in order to flush out the urea, we need to drink lots of water and this is where children are the worst victims.

When infants are put on a high-protein diet (as in the Melamine added milk powder),
it can lead to hypernatremic dehydration because their small bodies use up an excessive amount of water when their kidneys filter out the urea content. This dehydration process can lead to brain damage as well as kidney failure and eventual death! At the last count, at least a dozen or more children have lost their lives due to drinking the tainted milk.

In a nation where the one-child policy is a mandatory rule, parents whose children are affected will have to come to terms with having to face the fact that their only child will never lead a normal and healthy life ever again. The best lawyers and whatever compensations that may be meted out will never be able to make a difference to these anguished families.

Neighbouring countries in South East Asia raised the alarm and start to ban all China-made food products which contain milk and its by-products. The European Union
has placed a ban on children's food imports from China. Other European countries are also following suit to safeguard their people's health and lives. Random food checks on China food products containing milk are being carried out elsewhere.

Closer to home, our Health Ministry is setting up more labs in every state to carry out tests at a quicker pace. So far, it has been identified that products locally manufactured by 34 companies are safe and free from melamine contamination. The Ministry was able to verify that the milk ingredients used by these companies were not sourced from China and as a double precaution, have also been tested to be safe by the Chemistry Department.

Be that as it may, many of us will hesitate to pick up anything from the Supermarket shelf without checking on its ingredients from now on. There may also be many who are ignorant of what is going on and will still continue to feed their children and themselves with unsafe food.

There is no way anyone can stop unscrupulous people from making a fast buck at the expense of another's life. It's a sad, sad world we are living in these days. When will man ever learn to live and let live?

Oh well, I guess there is something good to be said in spite of all this : Friends of mine are making an effort to stay off milk and its related products and also promise themselves to a less-meat diet now that they are more aware of its adverse consequences on the environment. Mothers-to-be will definitely opt to breast feed their new-borns in light of this tragedy. Nevertheless, it is unfortunate that young and innocent lives have to be sacrificed for the world to sit up and take note of the food they now consume.

Some things have to happen and for a good reason. So, if it is any comfort to the affected families in China, their present suffering may help to save other lives now and in the future. Who knows, God moves in mysterious ways.... someone out there somewhere may be working out a rescue mission for the affected children. We pray that the day will come soon. If all else should fail, let's all still hold on to our faith and hope in the Almighty.

Take care, live right and eat healthy!!

If you want to know more on the dangers of excess protein:!&id=191820

For an update of products on suspect list (in Malaysia):

Health Ministry labs to hasten Melamine tests:

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