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Taobao blocks tainted-formula searches
Date: 2011/12/9 Click: 1574
China's biggest online shopping website, Taobao, has blocked Meiji baby formula from its search results since Meiji Dairies Corp of Japan announced on Tuesday that radioactive cesium was found in the product.

Meiji infant formula produced in Japan is not officially sold in China, but has been widely available on various shopping websites

According to Taobao, it has contacted industrial and commercial authorities in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, where the company is based. Meiji formula will not appear in its search results until authorities give the OK.

Taobao also said it would help consumers return the products to online stores if their purchases were on a recall list issued by the Japanese dairy company.

Baby formula is one of the most popular buy-for-you products online. Many private online sellers offer illegally imported foreign food at lower prices or products unavailable in the regular market.

A Taobao search by China Daily reporters for "private seller of foreign baby formula" yielded 4,479 hits.

According to a report by Xinmin Evening News on Wednesday, a search for "Meiji milk powder" yielded more than 7,000 hits before the website blocked the results.

Contacted by China Daily on Wednesday, a shopowner, whose ID on Taobao is nihongli007, said that the formula they sell is from Japan, but is not on the recall list. The seller also said if any buyers bought products on the list from their shop, they could return them.

Ma Nan, mother of a 2-year-old girl in Shenyang, Liaoning province, said she used to buy Meiji formula from a shop on Taobao.

"But I stopped buying it after the Fukushima nuclear disaster for fear of the radiation. I hope the ones we had were not contaminated," she said on Wednesday.

Han Dongli, a 35-year-old mother, brought Meiji milk powder products from Yokohama, Japan, back to China - they were not contaminated with cesium. She said that if any of those products did have problems, she would not return them to Japan anyway.

Qiu Baochang, head of the lawyers group of the China Consumers' Association, said that sellers, including the online shops, have responsibilities to arrange the return of products with problems.

"If an online shop refuses to get the products returned, consumers can solve the issue through lawsuits," Qiu said.

A spokesman for the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said on Wednesday that China has banned milk powder imported from Japan since last year.

The import ban was imposed in April after the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Japanese cattle and extended because of the radiation leaks from crippled nuclear power plants caused by the earthquake and tsunami. The ban remains in place.

Nearly nine months after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Meiji said it was recalling 400,000 cans of the infant formula, produced in Saitama with expiration dates of Oct 3-6 and 21-24, 2012. The company said these products are sold only in Japan.

Meiji Dairies Trading (Shanghai) Co Ltd announced on its website on Wednesday that all Meiji milk powder products the company sells in China are produced in and directly imported from Australia.
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