China milk powder scandal accused stand trial

One dozen people stood trial in Shanghai this week over allegations that this syndicate created fake milk powder cans that copied legitimate designs of Beingmate and Abbott, but filled them with poor quality formula.

In one of the biggest food scandals to hit China in recent years, the 12 are accused of buying low-grade milk powder and repackaging it as being from real brands, according to news site

The case comes after the outrage seen in 2008 when children died after drinking counterfeit milk products, which in turn resulted in increased government regulation and monitoring of the infant formula industry - and a massive increase in demand for western products in favour of local Chinese brands.

The accused are alleged in 2015 to have added cheap milk powders in forged containers, but with Abbott branding and logos. In September of that year, Abbott discovered the fraud and alerted the authorities, who busted the gang.

Around 12,000 cans of counterfeit Abbott products were made, the company says, although about 3,000 were not traced. These were all believed to be sold to the market through traders in several east and central China cities, including in Shandong and Hunan provinces.

The defendants - who could face life in prison for the offences if found guilty – are accused of selling up to 3.6m yuan (more than $500,000) worth of falsified formula between August 2014 and September 2015.

A verdict in the case is expected soon, according to local media reports. China is the world's biggest infant formula market with annual sales of around $20bn, according to market research firm Euromonitor.

Meantime, China is trying to ease safety concerns, with the Shanghai Institute of Quality Inspection and Technical Research testing the faked powder, and saying that the fake products would not hurt children's health.

At one point China was considering mandating serialization of infant formula products, but last June the central government introduced new standards focusing instead on a system of product registration and inspection/certification by the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA).

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