NZ company just as negligent in Chinese milk powder crisis

If ever there was a PR crisis, it was last week’s contaminated milk powder scandal in China.

More than 13,000 babies were hospitalised after drinking the powder, which was laced with the industrial chemical melamine. More than 52,000 children, all under two, became ill.

The Chinese company which manufactures the power, Sanlu, is in partnership with NZ dairy giant Fonterra.

From a PR perspective, the Chinese company’s responses (or lack of) were pathetic, and not helped by the Central Propaganda Department issuing a directive to hush-up the bungle.

The problems first surfaced on 14 August. As reported in the Chinsese people’s Daily, Sanlu did not issue an apology until 15 September. Unbelievable.

Fonterra should also be called to account. It says it urged its partner to go public and issue a total recall as soon as it knew of the poisoning. However, why didn’t Fonterra go public when Sanlu delayed its response? Certainly NZ Prime Minister Helen Clark said they should have (see ABC News).

Clearly both companies are equally as responsible when the issue of public safety is involved. More than 430 children have kidney stones as a result. Four died.

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