China Daily has a report citing an official in China’s dairy industry who describes the domestic dairy business as the "world’s worst" when it comes to quality standards, with much of the blame going to "large companies that dominate it and the rock-bottom prices they pay farmers for raw milk."
This shouldn’t come as a surprise for anyone who’s been following the country’s seemingly endless stream of food safety issues (particularly the melamine crisis), but it is depressing news nonetheless, particularly since so many dining establishments source their milk and dairy products from the aforementioned domestic producers.
According to the article the main problem lies in poor nutrition for the cattle producing milk – in order to cut costs, many farmers are deliberately reducing the feed to their livestock, which results in poor quality milk containing excess bacteria.
"China relaxed its national milk quality standards in 2010, increasing the maximum limit of bacteria acceptable in raw milk from 500,000 per milliliter to 2 million per milliliter and lowering the minimum requirement for protein content from 2.95 grams per 100 grams of milk to 2.80 grams. Statistics show that international standards for protein content call for 3 grams per 100 grams of milk. The acceptable amount of bacteria in raw milk in Europe is 100,000 per milliliter," says the article, which also points out that many of the people responsible for setting these standards are tied to China’s dairy industry.
Proposals and policy changes are forthcoming, but that does little good to counter all the ill-effects of all the low-grade milk the public has been consuming for years.
For now it seems very much worth shelling out a bit more for the higher-grade organic and imported milk and dairy products (including Wondermilk, Anchor Milk from New Zealand and Modern Farming – a.k.a. Xiandai Muchang – 现代牧场 – which is produced by Mengniu Dairy) you can find in local specialty shops and grocers.
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