Sunday, August 8, 2010

Early puberty caused by milk powder?

An article in New Capital Times discussed accusations by a handful of parents that infant formula caused the early onset of puberty in infants and young children. There is no conclusive link between early puberty and milk powder, but experts say it's possible there is a connection. The parents blame the formula since their babies didn't eat anything else that could have caused the phenomenon. This incident is not related to the melamine incident.

A food safety expert asserted that hormones were not likely added in the manufacturing process. The chairman of the China Dairy Association agreed, noting that hormones would not add any value to the milk powder so there would be no incentive for manufacturers to add them.

The dairy association chairman explains, "Hormones are not a permitted additive in milk powder. They can be detected with lab equipment, but tests are not currently required." He wondered if the hormones were introduced in the milk itself at the farm level. (Great detective work!) He suggests that manufacturers should test the milk they receive.

A professor from China Agricultural University explains that milk powder standards in China do not require testing for hormones. Hormones are considered to be a drug.

The reporter went to some Beijing supermarkets to check on the situation. The problem seems to be linked to a brand called Shengyuan (Synutra). He found this type of powder for sale and being promoted in some stores. In a store in Fengtai District he was told that many consumers prefer to buy imported formula (after the melamine incident).

The dairy association head noted that foreign countries differ in their regulation of hormones. Some allow it; some don't. So you could get hormones from imported formula.

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