Were Melamine Deaths Seen in 2005?

Shenyang, China — Amidst the Chinese “Melamine milk” repercussions that are spreading rapidly across the world, it has come to light that a number of North Korean infants who had been given Chinese powdered milk in 2005 died.

According to merchants trading between China and North Korea, the Chinese Melamine-tainted milk affair started in Pyongyang in the summer of 2005. At the time, infants who ate imported Chinese powdered milk fell unconscious and, in more serious cases, died.

He said that “Upon a series of unexplained infant deaths, the North Korean authorities launched an examination of Chinese powdered milk and stopped importing it, and some other products, immediately. However, what kind of agreement between the North Korean and Chinese authorities was implemented afterwards is not known.”

According to the merchant’s explanation, sausage made in China was included in the list of banned import items. This was due to a mass food poisoning incident.

At the outbreak of Chinese food problems, the North Korean authorities attempted to link the issue to its security education, claiming that “The South’s intelligence organizations put pieces of broken glass into Chinese powdered milk, so our babies died.”

The authorities said that they therefore wouldn’t allow the citizens to eat Chinese sausages and fruit on the grounds that people could get a stomachache, and that pregnant women were at risk of miscarriage.

There have reportedly been many kinds of rumors regarding Chinese food besides the stories released by the authorities.

One merchant reported that “The controversy over Chinese noxious powdered milk is a time-tested story. However, as the affair occurred, so other groundless rumors circulated.”

A source from Yankang Province confirmed it on the 24th, saying that “Rumors circulated at the time, such as that there were lots of hooks in Chinese flour and that the pepper powder and seasoning from China were full of maggots. So, the authorities spread propaganda at citizen lectures through people’s units, saying that the backdrop to these cases was South Korean intelligence organizations.”

Another North Korean merchant said that “In those days the lowest-priced products were mostly imported from China, so they might have had trouble with the quality or the age of them. However, there was a great deal of vicious gossip as well.”

However, in light of food price inflation and the low price of Chinese products, and no matter how far the virulent rumors travel, Chinese food is still selling like hot cakes in the jangmadang. Chinese products overwhelm the Pyongsung jangmadang daily, according to sources. The restrictions on Chinese milk have seemingly been hushed up.

Meanwhile, the risk from Chinese goods has not gone away by any means. Paul Risley, Asia Spokesperson of WFP, said on the 24th through RFA that “[Around 300 tons of powdered milk] was purchased in January, and it has since been used and processed and put into foods that we supply. So it will be very difficult to check or test it now.”