Chinese Child Lies In Hospital - Victim Of Tainted Milk
A hundred years ago, babies who couldn’t be breast-fed usually didn’t survive. Today, although breast-feeding is still the best nourishment for infants, infant formula is a close enough second that babies not only survive, but thrive. Commercially prepared formulas are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
The safety of commercially prepared formula is also ensured by the agency’s nutrient requirements and by strict quality control procedures that require manufacturers to analyze each batch of formula for required nutrients, to test samples for stability during the shelf life of the product, to code containers to identify the batch, and to make all records available to FDA investigators.
The composition of infant formula is similar to breast milk, but it isn’t a perfect match, because the exact chemical makeup of breast milk is still unknown. Human milk is very complex, and scientists are still trying to unravel and understand what makes it such a good source of nutrition for rapidly growing and developing infants. John C. Wallingford, Ph.D., an infant nutrition specialist with FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, says that “infant formula is increasingly close to breast milk.”
More than half the calories in breast milk come from fat, and the same is true for today’s infant formulas. This may be alarming to many American adults watching their intake of fat and cholesterol, especially when sources of saturated fats, such as coconut oil, are used in formulas. (For adults, high intakes of saturated fats tend to increase blood cholesterol levels more than other fats or oils.) But the low-fat diet recommended for adults doesn’t apply to infants.
“Infants have a very high energy requirement, and they have a restricted volume of food that they can digest,” says Wallingford. “The only way to get the energy density of a food up is to have a high amount of fat.” While greater knowledge about human milk has helped scientists improve infant formula, it has become “increasingly apparent that infant formula can never duplicate human milk. Human milk contains living cells, hormones, active enzymes, immunoglobulins and compounds with unique structures that cannot be replicated in infant formula.”
Illicit Baby Formula In Wisconsin
In 2007 a New Berlin (Wisconsin) grocery wholesaler was under investigation by the FBI on suspicion of buying and selling large quantities of stolen infant formula. Among other things, FBI agents saw approximately 200,000 cans of infant formula, some of which bore indicia (indications) of having been stolen. The FBI indicated that the company regularly received shipments of suspected stolen formula and repackaged the formula before it was sold.
The company “cleaned” the cans by removing store labels and price tags, wiped dust from the cans, repacked the cans into cartons of six, and shrink-wrapped the cartons. One search of trash at the firm’s warehouse (by agents in 2006) revealed that the company had sold more than 17,000 cans of infant formula over an unknown time period. These illicit sales would have generated more than $200,000 in revenue. More about safety risks below (at formula safety).
The China Tragedy. A Blow To Free Society.
Fear Grips Parents Over Tainted Milk & Baby Formula
In China, recent deaths related to tainted baby formula should trigger an alarm on more than one front. In the Chinese language, there is one pair of words that you hear constantly: zhende (meaning real, authentic), and jiade (meaning fake, imitated). This pair of words is especially important when shopping, as it depicts the difference in quality between brand name and counterfeit goods. But beyond a difference in quality, zhende and jiade also imply a difference between trust-an unwritten contract-and distrust-the absence of such contract. The deadly, ongoing scandal with tainted baby formula signals an erosion of Chinese trust in supposedly high quality, brand name products-zhende-and a setback to the development of a contract society.
The Chinese economy is growing by double digits. Their citizens hope that this will develop into a “reform and opening” to bring a higher standard of living. Part of this standard of living is symbolized in brand name products. Both small and large cities alike, with the support of officials at all levels, have stores emblazoned with names like Nike and Adidas, among others. Many of these stores and products are jiade (fake). The labels may be inscrutably similar, but the quality will almost assuredly be different. To domestic consumers willing to spend the money on the real deal, however, there is an unspoken contract: we are willing to pay if you are willing to deliver. When it comes to the well being of children, parents are universally willing to pay for zhende (authentic).
The company that is responsible for the tainted baby formula (we will call Comp-X) has essentially become a counterfeit of itself. During months of questions, tests, and reports from both parents and at least one pediatrician, the company continued to sell a product that was not zhende (authentic). Many believe that the Olympics propaganda and journalistic “security” measures stifled coverage of the fake baby formula, the “tainted product”. China is not yet a free and open society, so I believe that China’s period of strict censorship actually provided the company with a real (zhende!) opportunity. It was an opportunity they did not seize.
Hong Kong Police Check Shelves For Counterfeited Baby Formula And Tainted Milk Powder
Above: Logo Of Product Being Removed From Chinese Stores
Comp-X did not quietly recall their tainted formula. They did not instruct health care centers to warn parents of babies with kidney stones that their children’s formula may be playing a role. Instead, Comp-X bribed noisy victims, ironically, with offers of more of their products. The responsibility that Chinese citizens expect from Comp-X was absent. Customers expect to fulfill their part of a public contract with Comp-X through paying more. In return, they expected a product that was not jiade (fake). Yet, for months, infants were suffering the result of Comp-X’s broken contract.
Inspection And Testing Of Counterfeited Milk Powder/ Baby Formula
This is not the first deadly crisis involving baby formula. In 2004, 13 children died after being repeatedly fed formula that, unbeknownst to their parents, contained no nutrients whatsoever. The difference between the two crises, however, again illustrates the larger problem. The perpetrators of the 2004 incident were the makers of a counterfeit, off-brand product-jiade (fake). This time around, the perpetrator is Comp-X, a brand long held as zhende (authentic).
The difference between buying zhende (authentic) and jiade (fake) generally just means the difference between enjoying a treat and suffering upset stomach. For others, buying zhende or jiade can mean the difference between a year’s salary and a herd of dead livestock, as in cases of counterfeit animal feed. In 2004, although no parent wished his or her child ill, the price of buying jiade was a child’s life. Now, however, to the horror of millions, and a huge setback in the development of a contract society, the lines have blurred.
Why Target Baby Formula?
In the United States, baby formula is one of the more popular items with counterfeiters because of the ease of selling it. It has great street value. There are a lot of young mothers who are willing to pay 50 cents on the dollar for stolen formula. There is a high demand because baby formula is expensive. The consumers buying the stolen formula are young parents with not a lot of money to spend. Today, stolen formula is sold at places like flea markets or over the Internet. This poses a health risk because baby formula is temperature-sensitive.
The conditions in which counterfeiters are warehousing perishable goods (including those with an expiration date) can be dangerous-even fatal-to consumers. Some baby formula has been stored in garages with rodents running across storage facilities that have no temperature controls whatsoever. When it gets hot the baby formula will break down in nutritional value if it is kept out of its correct temperature range.
The counterfeiters are good at hiding their craft. As part of their operations, the counterfeiters will clean, repackage, and re-label goods to make them appear as legitimate products. They will also switch labels, particularly if items are damaged or out of date. They think nothing of switching labels from one brand of formula to another. Counterfeiters also make counterfeit labels. (see article dated October 8th, 2008, “The Bucket Shops”).
In some cases counterfeiters may even sell the products back to the retailer, unbeknownst to them. And frequently, counterfeiters will sell the products via Internet Web sites, such as eBay. The ease with which criminals can use the Internet to sell the stolen goods now makes it more difficult to investigate these crimes.
In addition to working with law enforcement, many retailers are trying to make it harder for counterfeiters to disguise the origin of the product. Many of them now stamp their product with their company name and logo, and a store number so that the retail source of the product can be identified if uncovered in a theft or for other purposes, such as a product recall.
Above: Parents In China Worry - The Chain Of Custody Has Been Lost And Children Are At Risk
Combating The Counterfeiters. ATL Security Solutions: Each member of the supply channel has to understand that the solution must be a collaborative, united effort to assure the safety of products that pass through their hands. This includes confirming the legitimacy of the item’s source; the doctor, wholesaler, ADR, distributor, manufacturer, and API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient) sources.
All it takes is one bad apple: It could be one counterfeiter; one diluted product; one re-dated product; one product with fake labels; one false repackaging run… if any of these events occur, and the secure supply channel is broken, the patients are at risk.
ATL Security Labeling Systems (TM) has a solid product line to assist you in the detection of counterfeiting and diversion. Our brands make it more difficult to steal.
From the pedigree papers to the end user, our SecurBook (TM) labels can provide a complete (100%) supply channel authentication. Identical forensic markers on (pedigree papers, bulk containers, individual units) can be scanned and read to ensure 100% accuracy. This will verify that the brand has not been counterfeited. Patented, portable-scanning units can verify and authenticate in the field.
How Does This Work? ATL Pharma utilizes the unique technology of IDGLOBAL. This consists of custom forensic markers with digital data for tracking. Specific ATL SecurBook labels contain an invisible and non-degradable forensic marker. When applied (or linked) to pedigree documentation, packaging, and containers, the supply channel becomes “secure”, because all “digital data” scans must match as identical. If they match, brand authentication and anti-counterfeiting are ensured. This is why we call ATL brands the “Secur” product line.
Invisible (Non-degradable) Forensic Marker Is Your Assurance Of Brand Authenticity
ATL can provide custom solutions tailored to your specific supply channel.
Other ATL Pharma brands include:
SecurLock: Tamper-Evident breakaway closure;
SecurDetek: Invisible, Hidden Page Marker;
SecurMark: Anti-Counterfeiting holograms;
SecurStretch: Tamper-Evident Unit Closure;
SecurPly: Booklets for soft squeeze tubes;
PharmaVoid: Security Closure/ Destructible Tapes;
Triple-Ply: Three-Tier overt and / or covert levels of anti-counterfeiting;
D2 WAO: Wrap-Around style (up to 19 panels) that fit most cylinders-
(U.S. Patent Applied For).
Brand protection (safeguarding the public) doesn’t cost much more than the labels and packaging in use today. If you are a brand owner, why not do the right things. Provide your customers with layered anti-counterfeiting overt and covert protection.
Remember always: “It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision.” Helen Keller