BEIJING, Sept 17 China's Health Ministry
reminded hospitals on Tuesday that they are not allowed to push
the sale of baby milk to new mothers after Chinese state
television said Danone had bribed hospital staff to
give its milk powder to new-born babies.
China Central Television said the company's Dumex unit had
paid medical staff at a city hospital in Tianjin to promote its
products, allegations that the French food group said it was
shocked by and would investigate immediately.
The ministry, in a statement on its website in response to
the report, said existing laws on promoting breast milk and not
allowing medical personnel to promote the sale of baby milk must
"Medical establishments and their staff are banned from
pushing or promoting substitute products for breast milk on
mothers and families of infants ... (They must) actively promote
and push breastfeeding," it added.
Staff who broke the rules or accepted bribes would be
severely punished, the statement said.
Milk powder is a highly sensitive topic in China after a
scandal in 2008 when melamine added to baby milk killed at least
six children and left thousands ill.
International guidelines, used in China, say doctors should
promote breastfeeding unless there are medical reasons not to.
Corruption in China's healthcare industry is widespread,
fuelled in part by low base salaries for doctors at the
country's 13,500 public hospitals.
China has been cracking down in recent months on graft in
various industries, with foreign companies in regulators'