Milk safety in China has been a big concern for many years. Scandals involving many big dairy groups have happened one after another since 2004.

A milk powder scandal shocked the nation in 2004. Hundreds of babies suffered malnourishment nationwide after drinking fake milk powder. Many developed "big head disease", where their heads appeared abnormally large compared to their bodies. 13 infants, mostly from poor rural families, died of malnutrition. The deaths sparked a nationwide call for stricter inspection of milk powder products. Government officials in charge of the case were punished.

A milk safety scandal came into the spotlight again in 2008. Hundreds of thousands of infants were diagnosed with kidney stones after being fed with milk powder produced by the Sanlu Group, one of China's largest dairy firms. Investigations found the company's products contained the toxic chemical melamine to increase the milk's protein levels. The scandal led to the Sanlu group going out of business, and the death sentence for two workers. It also pushed the authorities into tightening up supervision standards, adding melamine and other chemicals to the checklist.

In 2010, three major dairy groups were involved in a malevolent business attack. Shengyuan milk powder was rumored to cause premature sexual development among three girls in Wuhan. The rumor pointed at a children's powder product from Yili Dairy Group. But police found it was Mengniu Dairy Group, Yili's biggest business rival, who spread the rumors on the Internet. Staff behind the issue were arrested, and Mengniu Group suffered great losses.


milk powder:奶粉
big head disease:大头病
poor rural families:农村贫困家庭
stricter inspection:严格检验
kidney stones:肾结石
Sanlu Group:三鹿集团
dairy firms:乳制品企业
toxic chemical:有毒化学品
protein levels:蛋白质水平
out of business:破产
death sentence:死刑
premature sexual development:性早熟