Monday, September 22, 2008


This venerable white creamy candy is a favourite of mine in my younger days. It is chewy, creamy and utterly yummy. I enjoy licking the edible tracing-paperlike inner wrap which sticks well to the candy itself. Occasionally when I browse the candy section of provision shops, seeing the White Rabbit candy on the shelves brings me back to those nolstalgic years. Today, it brings me forward to a realization of how much profiteering and the length that unscrupulous merchants would go to sell their products. Melamine is a chemical substance that is widely used in dairy products as it can boost a higher protein read, thus increasing sales of their products. Knowing that protein is a desired element for growing babies, would not parents be willing to buy a high-protein diet for their kids? Moreover, in a fanatic demand for cheaper-and-better products, wouldn't it entice manufacturers to do whatever possible within their arsenal to increase profits via lower cost and higher benefits? Alas. Though melamine has been commonly used over the years as an additive in dairy products, all it takes is one bad apple (in this case Sanlu company) to damage the rest of the fruit. Even the manufacturer of my once fond White Rabbit candy is not spared. The fallout is long and growing: The scandal continues to grow. The question I pose: If Melamine has been added to dairy products as a standard practice, why are people behaving like abandoning EVERYTHING that has melamine in it? Is it an over-reaction? I think the answer is both yes and no. Let me explain. While it can be true that adding melamine is commonly done in the past, what is worrying is that this 'standard' practice has been re-adjusted unscrupulously by more than one party. Coupled with inter-dependence of distributors and manufacturers, and the keen competition, it is a temptation not to follow suit. "If Joe does this and makes so much money, why not follow or perhaps better what Joe did?"

On the other hand, I think the mass media played scaremonger role extremely well. Take a look at the headline statements:
  • "The discovery of melamine, used to make plastics and tan leather, in additional dairy products raises more questions about how many consumers in China have been exposed to the chemical, which has been linked to kidney failure in babies leading to at least four deaths." (Bloomberg)
  • Tainted Milk panics Hong Kong parents (ie after 1 case) (Bangkok Post)
  • Milk Scare Escalates (China Post)
  • Taiwan Bans Imports of Chinese Milk (m)
Coupled with government wholesale ban of milk products from China, and the supermarkets move to remove all Chinese based milk, the fears over Chinese milk spins itself effortlessly toward paranoia. Finally, it hit my favourite candy. Sigh. After all that is said and done, as far as babies are concerned, the age-old ardage still rings true: Breast is best.

Some things that we can learn from the melamine scandal.
  1. If something is too good to be true, it probably is.
  2. Put on discerning eyes and adopt careful minds when we read news on the media. Start with a 50% discount on what we see/read right from the start.
  3. Go as natural as possible. You may spend a little more upfront, but you stand to save a whole lot more in future.
  4. You are what you eat.


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