- Title: TOGO: African states ban Chinese milk in health alert
- Date: 25th September 2008
- Summary: (AD1) LOME, TOGO (SEPTEMBER 24, 2008) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF MILK IN BAG AT SHOP ENTRANCE (SOUNDBITE) (French) MILK VENDOR, ZAKUA ABOUBAKAR, SAYING: "There are some consumers when they come to buy, and when we tell them the price, they don't want to hear it, they want to buy at lower prices. It's the Chinese milk that have been suspended and they are sold randomly. They do not know. We must tell consumers to check the milk's label before buying them." VARIOUS OF MILK CARTONS IN A SHOP VARIOUS OF CHINESE MILK VENDOR, AMADOU AROUNA MILK IN A SHOPPING BAG (SOUNDBITE) (French) CHINESE MILK VENDOR, AMADOU AROUNA, SAYING: "They told us it's Chinese milk, so it's not good." VARIOUS OF TRAFFIC ON LOME STREETS (SOUNDBITE) (Mina) LOME RESIDENT, ROBERTINE AMOUZOU HEMAZRO, SAYING: "I learned in the media that Chinese milk is bad, and that you can fall sick and that the milk kills people, without anyone knowing the cause of death. Most of the time, we like Chinese milk because it's less expensive compared to other products in this country. Now I am afraid. I now refuse to buy imported products."
- Embargoed: 10th October 2008 13:00
- Location: Togo
- Country: Togo
- Topics: Industry
- Reuters ID: LVACZDHS0D5BEZKA20480NYZ8Y6B
- Story Text: Bans on imports of Chinese milk products by African states fearing contamination have highlighted the growing presence of Chinese goods in Africa's markets and raised worries over depending on them too heavily. Togo became the latest African state to stop Chinese dairy imports on Wednesday (September 24).
Bans on imports of Chinese milk products by African states fearing contamination have highlighted the growing presence of Chinese goods in Africa's markets and raised worries over depending on them too heavily.
From Ivory Coast in the west to Tanzania in the east, governments have joined the list of countries blocking Chinese milk imports over concerns they could be contaminated with deadly melamine.
Chinese powdered milk laced with industrial chemical melamine has been blamed for causing four deaths in China so far and making thousands more ill.
The health scare means African authorities and shoppers are now also worried about what is in Chinese dairy products. Togo became the latest African country to ban them on (September 24). Burundi, Gabon and Ghana also have bans.
African consumers find buying Chinese products more convenient in the face of the rising cost of living, as they are sold at lower prices compared to other products.
"There are some consumers when they come to buy, and when we tell them the price, they don't want to hear it, they want to buy at lower prices.
It's the Chinese milk that have been suspended and they are sold randomly.
They do not know. We must tell consumers to check the milk's label before buying them," said Zakua Aboubakar, a milk vendor in Togo.
Since the start of the decade, African leaders have been keen to strike often controversial deals with China which guarantee supply of oil or metals from Africa in return for billions of dollars in loans and infrastructure projects.
These deals have opened the door to imports of cheap Chinese goods, including food, which African consumers have come to rely on as they struggle with high prices. Chinese exports to Africa rose 40 percent to 23 billion US dollars year-on-year in the first half of 2008.
The World Health Organisation has no reports of illness caused by tainted Chinese milk outside China and said a blanket ban on imports was not required. But it warned countries to be vigilant.
Informal sales channels such as roadside kiosks and food stalls are a staple of African commerce.
While governments can ban imports and order traders to stop selling Chinese milk, a lack of clear labelling can make it almost impossible to tell where the milk comes from. But some consumers in Togo have become more sceptical about consuming Chinese products, after learning the risks attached to it.
In Ghana, the government suspended imports of Chinese-origin milk and milk products meant for human and animal consumption, the Food and Drug Board (FDB) said. Meanwhile, it has asked China to provide details of products.
In Africa, where imported products are often repackaged locally, such information is crucial.
"It is reassuring that most products, essentially, most imported products are approved by the Ministry of Agriculture, and most of them come from Europe," said Guy Madze Lorenzo, Togo's trade minister.
Some African manufacturers' groups have accused China of "dumping" cheap goods onto the continent, reducing local jobs and market share.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2011. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None