Guest post by Teak
As we saw with the poisonous pet foods, lead painted toys, etc., Chinese products are very much caveat emptor. I received this warning in much longer form and have distilled it down as seen below. I think it may be an overblown threat, but would urge those with children or a taste for Asian foods to be aware of the potential hazards.
China has reported many instances of poisoning from compromised milk / milk products and there is no recall system / warning list available - in part because of the chaotic, frontier nature of the Chinese manufacturing industry.
1.What really is poisoned milk?
It is milk powder mixed with 'MELAMINE'. What is Melamine used for? It is an industrial chemical used principally in the production of inexpensive dishes.2.Why is Melamine added to milk powder?
Melamine is inexpensive; adding it to milk powder reduces the cost of products made using milk powder. And Chinese industrialists have embraced the idea of making profits to exclusion of all else with an enthusiasm which would make the 19th Century American robber barons look like EPA regulators.
Here's a photo of the powder - it has no odor while it has coloration and granulation very similar to powdered milk, allowing the unscrupulous to dilute the pure product with little chance of being found out until the damage is done.
3.What happens when Melamine ingested and digested?
Melamine remains inside the kidneys. It forms into stones blocking the tubes; pain will be imminent and the person cannot urinate. It can cause kidney failure. The Chinese have had a large number of infants who developed serious kidney problems which compromised the organs to the point where regular dialysis is required. The chemical has also been found in many products of Taiwanese origin.
4. Proactive preventative steps - basically avoid food products which could contain milk products.
The first 3 digits of the barcode identify the country code of the product's origin. ALL barcodes that start with 690, 691, 692, etc., up to and including 695 are from the PRC. Code 471 identifies Taiwan and 480 the Philippines.
Double digit codes 00 - 13 are US / Canada while up to 76 (at least) represent Japan and Western Europe.
This code comes from a Taiwanese product:
I will be keeping this in mind as I shop. It may have been exaggerated, but given the track record of the past few years and the horror stories I've read of the horrible scams Chinese have foisted on their countrymen, I thought I should pass it along.