The local quality control bureau has ordered Bright Dairy to halt production of a cheese product that it marketed to young children and criticized the local dairy giant for deceiving its regulators, a bureau official said at a press conference Thursday.
Bright Dairy will face the bureau's heaviest punishment because it was dishonest with authorities about adding milk calcium, a substance that the Ministry of Health banned in food products for small children, into the cheese, said Shen Weiming, vice head of the Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision.
"Bright Dairy failed to clearly distinguish between the cheese product for babies and a product for older children in an annual report it submitted to us about the additives it puts in each product," Shen said.
The Bright Dairy cheese's label states that it is made especially for children between 1 and 3 years old.
A nutrition expert told the Global Times that milk calcium may put a strain on the kidneys of children under 4 years old.
The company was also deceptive about when it began adding the milk calcium into the product. Shen said that the dairy producer lied to authorities when it said it first started adding the supplement to the cheese in February.
"We investigated Bright Dairy and the company that supplies it with the additives containing milk calcium," Shen said. "We found that the additives was first used in December of last year."
However, Bright Dairy acknowledged that it started using the additive in 2009, China Youth Daily reported Wednesday.
Shen said the local quality watchdog only checks on the types of bacteria in dairy products that national authorities require, which don't include milk calcium.
"Because the cheese product is targeted at a relatively small group of consumers, we don't frequently inspect its labels. We last inspected the product's labels in June 2011," he said.
Bright Dairy apologized to its customers on its microblog Thursday for adding milk calcium to a cheese product that was marketed to young children. It pledged to rectify the situation.
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