China's dairy industry has the world's lowest quality standards due to large companies dominating its production and purchasing raw milk at rock-bottom prices, industry experts said.
"Milk processors and farmers all know that the problems of low protein content and high bacteria counts in milk are easy to solve with money but they have instead reduced investment because of the low profit margins," the China Daily quoted former vice-chairman of the Guangdong Provincial Dairy Association, Wang Dingmian, as saying.
Wang said the protein content of the milk would rise within a week if cows were fed adequately. He added that dairy farmers have instead reduced the amount of feed they give their animals as the big dairy companies pay a low price for purchasing the milk. The high bacteria count in milk is also caused by insufficient capital investment, he said.
China had relaxed its national milk quality standards in 2010, increasing the maximum limit of bacteria acceptable in raw milk from 500,000 per milliliter to two million per milliliter and lowering the minimum requirement for protein content from 2.95 grams per 100 grams of milk to 2.80 grams.
Food safety experts claimed the dairy giants helped ensure the looser standards as some of their branch plants could not meet higher standards
"The revised standards for raw milk, normal-temperatured milk and pasteurized milk were drafted by two Chinese dairy giants, Mengniu Dairy Co Ltd and Yili Industrial Group," Dingmian added.
He suggested introduction of flexible policy under which farmers could get high prices and thus be motivated to produce a better quality of raw milk.