Food Supply,  Health,  Toxic Exposure

Global Shortage of Baby Formula

By The Editors

Chinese families — aware of the dangers posed by baby formula contaminated with melamine and other harmful substances — prefer to buy brands produced and sold in other countries.  That is, if they can afford it.  Many can.

The increasing demand from Chinese families has resulted in the current global shortages and subsequent imposed limits on purchases.  In January, the New Zealand Food Safety Authority started to investigate the online trade in China of Kiwi-made baby formula.  At about the same time, Woolworths – a chain of Australian supermarkets – limited sales of all baby formula to four tins per transaction.  And, in February, the Hong Kong’s government set limits on cross-border trading of baby formula.  Among other restrictions, visitors are allowed to take not more than two tins of milk powder when they leave the city.  The goal is to ensure there is enough baby formula in the stores to meet the needs of local mothers. Since then, “milk smugglers” have topped heroin courier arrests in Hong Kong.

Limits are now in place in the UK and in Germany.  In addition to setting limits on purchases, what else can be done to ease the shortage?  In Germany, a spokesman for Milupa told the Associated Press that the company has hired more workers at its plant in southwestern Germany and expanded its 24-hour telephone hotline, which parents can call if they can’t find enough formula in their local stores.

More demand means more business opportunities related to the baby formula market – it must be “clean” baby formula, though.


  • cnc913

    I find this very saddening and sickening that Chinese food companies continued to use the nitrogen based compound in numerous products, such as baby formula, to increase the appearance of protein in the formula. It is also surprising that these food companies did not pull these products off the market initially, before this cascaded into thousands of babies becoming victims of this outcome; with ultimately several deaths. It was also noted that most of these babies developed urolithiasis, or bladder stones, with one of the main causes being malnutrition. Based on an another article I researched, was a study that focused on characteristics and diagnosis of urolithiasis in infants and toddlers, caused by melamine contamination in infant formula milk. This study focused on 28 individuals, with ultimately 17 of them needing stents and 5 individuals needing surgery to ultimately remove these severe bladder stones. Ultimately, this is very unethical of the Chinese companies to continue to produce these harmful substances in toddler formula, especially since they know the infants will have adverse effects, such as bladder stones, or even have possible diseases stemming from this nitrogen based compound. What is even worse, is a majority of these mothers do not have the means to purchase toddler formulas from other countries, such as the United States, where the formulas are melamine and chemical free, resulting in healthier and less heath-related illnesses. There needs to be further research regarding melamine contamination and its long term effects.

  • chow26

    The root of this problem is money. The baby milk manufacturers are corrupt, due to money. The milk smugglers charge higher prices for the foreign milk products. I’m surprised that the other countries didn’t decide to charge the Chinese extra too, yet they want to put limitations on how much they can received, which I’m sure these countries are aware of why the Chinese are buying their milk. Since the melamine-laced milk and the company abuse is made public, one would think the international legal system, like the United Nations, would at least acknowledge this problem.

  • Alejaaa21

    I think this is a very interesting topic and one that needs to be addressed. It is ridiculous that China continues to manufacture baby formula products with Melamine when they know the side effects it can cause. I did a little research on my own and came upon an article that was published back in 2008 about the Melamine contaminated baby formula. I found out that it caused 6,240 infants to develop kidney stones and resulted in the death of three of these infants. Kidney stones? How does the Chinese government find it acceptable to have infants in their country developing these sorts of diseases at such a remarkably young age. I also find it incredibly crazy that they now put restrictions on the amounts of formulas these mothers can purchase. This leads me to believe that due to the contamination found in the baby formula those mothers who can’t afford to buy formula from outside the Chinese borders have to give in and purchase Chinese produced baby formula or might even go days without feeding their children with fear that they may develop these diseases linked to the Melamine-contaminated feeding formula.


  • ErinnGoBragh

    I have never heard of milk smuggling. Its heartbreaking that a mother can provide healthy milk for their child. The Hong Kong government should do more to make clean milk more available to mothers in China rather than making stricter trading laws and arresting women trying to give their child one of their most basic needs.

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