Reuters reported yesterday that a Chinese court sentenced two men to death for their role in the production and sale of melamine-tainted milk that killed at least six children and made nearly 300,000 ill. The former head of the dairy firm at the heart of the scandal, the now bankrupt Sanlu Group, got life in prison and a fine. I was stunned, but not surprised at the anger directed at the executive of Sanlu:
"I think she should be shot. A death for a death," said Zheng Shuzhen, a 48-year-old grandmother from central Henan province, who said her one-year-old granddaughter, Zhou Mengxian, died in June of kidney failure after drinking Sanlu milk formula but was not included in the list of victims.
Six died in China last year over melamine-tainted milk and six have died in the last months in the United States over Salmonells-tainted peanut butter. Five died in 2006 due to E. coli-tainted spinach and 5,000 die each year in the United States due too food poisoning. The CDC also estimates that another 325,000 are hospitalized and 76 Million are sickened each year in the United States by food. Does anyone recall a criminal prosecution? One must wonder what United States food company executives are thinking? Perhaps pleased that their parents did not choose to live in China?
Interestingly, AP reported just a few days ago, "China families take milk case to highest court." More than 200 families whose babies fell ill after drinking tainted infant formula are taking their case to China’s highest court after being repeatedly ignored by lower courts. One wonders, if Chinese citizens had the same rights that we take for granted, that death sentences would be fewer and farther between. Here is a quote from on of the plaintiffs:
"The reason why I’m bringing this case to court is not about money but about my child’s future," said Zhang Ge, a single mother in Beijing who quit her job at an Internet advertising company to look after her sick son.