| HONG KONG
HONG KONG Aug 22 A Chinese retailer is offering
insurance to customers who buy infant milk powder, highlighting
the lengths to which companies are going to address concerns
about food safety in China.
Suning Commerce Group Ltd, which owns the
Redbaby chain of stores, told Reuters it had launched the policy
this week, backed by China's second largest insurer Ping An
Insurance Group .
The policy stipulates that if a brand of milk powder is
recalled, customers who bought cans from any Redbaby store or
its e-commerce website would be paid up to 2,000 yuan ($325) per
can, with payments capped at 100,000 yuan.
"In recent years, the milk powder market in China has been
in a mess," Suning said in an email.
"We realised that parents pay a great deal of attention to
their children's health and safety, and in particular, the
safety of their infants' foods," it added. Insurer Ping An said
Suning's policy is the first of its kind in China.
Concerns about the safety of baby milk powder came to the
fore in 2008 when thousands of infants fell sick and six died
after an industrial chemical was added to raise the apparent
protein content of certain products.
Pharmacies in Hong Kong, where food safety regulations are
perceived to be more stringent, saw a run on baby formula
following the scandal and many Chinese still travel into the
city, a special administrative region, to buy baby milk powder.
Suning said it was giving the insurance away for free for
the first 40,000 cans of baby formula sold. After that,
customers can buy the insurance online.
According to its e-commerce site, Redbaby stocks milk
formula from multinationals including Mead Johnson Nutrition
, Nestle SA, Danone SA as well as
brands made by China's New Hope Nutritional Foods Co in
partnership with New Zealand's Synlait Milk Ltd.
Along with detailed nutritional information, the website
also highlights the expiry date of each can of formula.
Food safety remains a major concern in China. Earlier this
week, U.S. foodmaker H.J. Heinz Co was forced to recall some of
its infant food products because they were found to contain
excess levels of lead.
KFC parent Yum Brands Inc, McDonald's Corp,
Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd
have also recently faced food safety scares.
($1 = 6.1543 Chinese yuan)
(Additional reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Miral Fahmy)