Like the rest of the world, the China milk scandal has alarmed Southeast Asian countries. China is the major trading partner of Southeast Asian nations. Chinese goods are popular and accessible in the region. It is not surprising to learn that Chinese milk products which are contaminated by melamine have already been sold in local markets.
How did governments react to the issue? Chinese milk products were scrutinized, strictly regulated and banned. Even the popular white rabbit candy was listed as a dangerous food item. Health agencies have published a list of safe products from China.
Because of the milk scare, consumers are changing their diet, while others refrain from drinking milk. As expected, milk companies are assuring customers that their products are safe. A consumer from Brunei wants the government to review its list of contaminated milk products. Now a Mummy is worried since she bought a biscuit from a company based in China.
What is the reaction of bloggers? A Singaporean describes the issue as “Weapons of Mass Consumption-Tainted Milk Saga.”
Bangkok Pundit advises the government not to overreact:
“The government needs to take appropriate action to ensure the safety of its citizens, but it likewise shouldn't overreact and create a panic – if the government overreacts, China could retaliate and this affects Thai exporters.”
A reader is shocked to see Chinese milk products still being sold in Thailand supermarkets:
“I think the Thai government's stance is totally unacceptable, it's not just a question of PR. How come you can still see the products on the shelves in supermarkets? The government should take a strong stance for the public safety and inform us clearly what products are contaminated and remove them.”
Alexisthetiny from Bangkok will now buy more local and unprocessed food products:
“Melamine is supposed to be toxic, right? How in the heck, then can we have ‘acceptable levels’ of that stuff in our food? I’d imagine that for something this disgustingly bad for our health, ‘acceptable levels’ would be nil. Jesus. How on earth have we gotten to a point where we would allow stuff like that to be added to our food? Actually, how on earth have we gotten to this point where we allow corporations to tell us what is ok in food even if it goes against our instincts? One thing for sure, this is going to change my food shopping habits. From now on, its as local and unprocessed as it can get.”
My Food for Thots from Malaysia writes about the difficulty of banning trade with China:
“But heck, what's not made in China? Even Nike shoes are made in China! Does this mean it's only safe buying stuff not made in China? Which only mean the expensive, branded stuff? Which leads to bigger inflation? Which means our salaries will not suffice? Sigh….”
Tumbleweed in Space from East Timor writes about what the milk scandal revealed on modern living:
“The recent milk scandal in China once again reminds us of how much contaminants there are in almost every aspect of our life. This time it's melamine, but recently studies have also shown that polycarbonate, a plastic commonly used for milk bottles, contains the hormone-disrupting Biphesonol-A.”
What is the possible impact of the scandal on Myanmar? Fear from Freedom explains:
“Chinese milk powder is used widely in Myanmar. Coffee and tea mixed packets are used widely as well. Since these packets contained milk powder the authorities should check the source of the milk. Singapore found tainted milk powder in tea packets and our imports are from Singapore. It is important to tell the people so they can avoid milk powder from China in any form until things are checked.”
House on a Hill from the Philippines reminds the government not to impose trade policies that hurt the poor:
“Instead of taking pains to determine whether Sanlu milk could have indeed been smuggled into the country and sold to the public, we have government officials overreacting by freezing imports and pulling off the supermarket shelves just about any milk and milk-based product from China. What kind of solution is that? That’s a double whammy. That’s discriminating against legitimate Chinese producers and exporters of milk and milk-based products. Worse, that is hurting poor Filipinos who can not afford the que horror prices of milk and milk products sold locally by multinational companies.”
Then she identifies alternative sources of calcium:
“So we have a government who has continually failed to educate the people of the dangers of buying unlabeled food products. That same government is cutting off the supply of cheap milk because it cannot curb smuggling. Where does that leave the consumers, especially the poor ones? For those with children below two years old, breastfeed them. For the rest, understand that while milk is a good source of calcium, it is not the only source of calcium. Sardines, okra, tofu and beans are all rich in calcium.”
The Curious Life of a Quirky Chef from the Philippines asks “Is China trying to kill the world one kid at a time?” The blogger adds:
“First, there was the global controversy about children's toys that were tainted with lead. Then, the issue about candies and biscuits from China that allegedly contain formaldehyde. Today, health officials all over the world, plus the millions of dairy consumers are panicking because of the Chinese milk products that are contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine.”