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[Opinion] Powdered Milk

Posted October. 03, 2008 03:03,   


The first record of powdered milk can be found in the writings of Marco Polo. The Italian traveler wrote that Mongolian soldiers in the time of Kublai Khan carried sun-dried skimmed milk as a kind of paste. The Mongols developed ways of making it easy to store and carry. They produced butter, cheese and yogurt with milk from cows and sheep and made airag, or fermented mare’s milk. Ice cream -- mixed with milk, ice and sugar -- was also invented by the Mongols. So was powdered milk.

Powdered milk is connected to modern times and the United States because the United States gave Koreans flour and milk powder in the 1950s. Middle-aged men and women or the elderly remember anxiously waiting for their mothers to make milk by pouring hot water into milk powder. When baby milk formula was first produced in 1965, it replaced breast milk. Back then, people used to ask “Do you feed it baby formula?” when they saw a healthy baby.

Fears are growing over Chinese milk in the wake of the report that trace amounts of melamine was found in an infant formula additive made in New Zealand. Korea has a large processed milk market and the lowest level of breastfeeding in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The detection of melamine in lactoferrin used in baby formula has caused worry among mothers. Lactoferrin, an additive used to boost the immune system, accounts for 0.003-0.07 percent of baby formula.

Many people have double standards on food. They eat everything from snakes, grub worms to earthworms to increase stamina and libido, yet are extremely sensitive to food safety. Koreans are the only people who shun eating chicken and even duck when bird flu breaks out. They learned a lesson, however, from the scandal over mad cow disease from imported U.S. beef. The government should keep in mind that hiding information and a belated response only breed concern. For its part, the public should not be swayed by incorrect information. Fortunately, no melamine was found in domestic infant formula. Young mothers are hopefully wise enough to tell the difference from baby formula and a baby formula additive.

Editorial Writer Chung Sung-hee (shchung@donga.com)