Chinese dairy standards under fire

By Ankush Chibber

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Milk

Chinese dairy standards under fire
A top local dairy industry official has called China's dairy standards the loosest in the world, triggering a fresh controversy on the issue.

The issue gained new momentum when Wang Dingmian, chairman of the Guangzhou Dairy Association, said at an industry meeting that the country's standards on fresh milk are the loosest in the world and a national "shame."

Dingmian's comments, which have been quoted by official Chinese news agencies, pointed to China's new dairy standards, which took effect on June 1 this year.

These standards set the maximum limit for bacteria in raw milk at 2 million cells per millilitre, four times higher than the amount allowed under previous regulations.

According to a notice from the Ministry of Health, the original bacteria count standards consisted of four grades, from 500,000 per millilitre to 4 million per millilitre.

In addition, the minimum required amount of protein content was lowered from 2.95 grams per 100 grams of milk to 2.8 grams per 100 grams, the notice said.

In comparison, dairy standards in western nations call for a bacterial count of roughly 100,000 per millilitre of raw milk, and a protein content of roughly 3 grams per 100 grams of raw milk.

In response, the Ministry of Health has claimed in a notice that new standards are more stringent than before as there is now a flat count of 2 million per millilitre, which is less than the previous top limit of 4 million per millilitre.

The ministry further said in the notice that the threshold protein count was lowered as survey data revealed that 90 per cent of all milk being produced in China had protein content lower than 2.95 grams.

Dingmian added that the standards were lowered because of increased pressure from dairy producers, who were looking to reap larger profits by cutting costs via these reduced standards.

He further alleged that the bacteria counts in freshly produced raw milk were low and it is the dairy producers' own sanitation standards that were unable to meet high dairy standards.

Further, Dingmian said that lower protein counts resulted in lower prices for raw milk being paid by producers to farmers as they could now claim that individual farmers could feed their cattle with less nutritious and cheaper forage.

While officials at the Guangzhou Dairy Association remain tight lipped, an official from another province level dairy association said that Dingmian was not wrong, but his reasons may be.

“You have to take into account that most cows in China are not being reared in the best of conditions; they are typically with small farmers who cannot afford higher sanitary conditions,”​ he said.

“If higher standards were adopted, I estimate that at least 60 per cent of all dairy cows would be rendered unusable to supply milk,”​ he added.

Related topics Regulation & Safety

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