Milk safety fears after Nestle practices exposed


Li is a dairy farmer in Shuangcheng, Heilongjiang province. Before he started milking his cows, he ensured that he had his homemade wooden stool, a bucket filled with well water and a red plastic milk barrel. Without any gloves, disinfectant fluid or towels, Li cleaned the cows' nipples with the well water and then started to milk the cows. About 10 minutes later, Li finished milking one cow, and carried the red barrel into the courtyard before pouring the milk into a milk container. A sheet is placed over the container to filter impurities and cow hairs. After milking all the cows, Li delivered his milk containers to the Nestle milk station in Chengxu village.

Shuangcheng is the largest cow breeding base in Heilongjiang province. Each day, 1,200 tons of raw milk produced in the city is monopolized by Nestle Shuangcheng Ltd., a Nestle branch office in Shuangcheng. Due to the Ministry of Agriculture's promotion of the automatic milking system, many milk stations in Heilongjiang use the automatic milking system. However, despite the fact that Shuangcheng is the largest cow breeding base in the province, none of its milk stations have automatic milking machines. Most dairy farmers still use traditional manual milking procedures and deliver milk to the station themselves.

At the Nestle milk station, a reporter saw a worker use a net to extract cow hairs and impurities from the milk. The raw milk sent to the station is processed in several non-closed containers, including milk barrels, milk containers, milk measuring containers, milk pools at the station and the milk station's milk containers.

Most milk source contamination comes from manual milking procedures. Non-disinfected cow nipples and milk barrels cause direct milk source contamination. Also, a lack of refrigeration during milk deliveries increases bacteria in the raw milk, leading to secondary contamination.

Wang Dingmian, a dairy expert, pointed out that the whole manual milking operation was incredibly time-consuming and included many non-closed procedures. And without rapid refrigeration, bacteria may increase in the milk, making it unsafe to drink. According to the Dairy Products Quality and Safety Policy, raw milk must be stored at 0-4°C within two hours of milking. It is clear that manual milking cannot meet this requirement.

Furthermore, many private milk sellers will cool the milk in cold water for 40 minutes to 1 hour (raw milk will reduce to 10 degrees from 35 degrees) in order to keep the milk fresh during their own "disinfection process". Following this, they will sell directly to customers. Customers will then reheat the milk before drinking it. Sanitation of these milk containers is completely dependent on the consciences of private sellers. The local common practice is to rinse the containers 2 or 3 times per day in running water. However, this can easily lead to an increase in bacteria, which seriously affects the quality of the milk.

Nestle, the world's largest food company, is well established in the Chinese market. However, its raw milk processing facilities are inferior to those of domestic enterprises. The exposure of Nestle's milk source problems has triggered widespread concerns about milk safety.

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