Vietnam recalls 'French' baby formula over quality, origin concerns

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Dang Minh Sang, deputy director of Manh Cam Company, displays the label of a can of Danlait, a goat milk product, of which it is the sole distributor in Vietnam

Market managers in Hanoi have recalled 6,000 cans of Danlait, a baby dairy product marked as formula goat milk from France, after questions were raised regarding its quality and origin.

The cans were seized from Manh Cam Company at Thanh Xuan District, believed to be the sole distributor of Danlait in Vietnam.

Kieu Dinh Canh, one of the city's market managers, told the Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that the distributor had committed labeling violations and tax evasion.

"There are signs that customers have been cheated," Canh said.

He said the product was registered as a supplementary food, but sold as milk according to Vietnamese labels.

First tests found Danlait only contains between 13 and 17.5 percent of protein, while Vietnam's standards require milk products to be at least 34 percent protein.

The company was also found selling the product for three times the price it had reported to related authorities.

Import certificates said it imported the product at around US$4 per 400 gram can, but it was sold on local market at five times more.

"[The company] must have raked in a lot from the lie," Canh said.

He said the authorities will check further to see if the product's labels are truthful in terms of ingredients and if it contains any banned substances.

Public suspicions were raised after several parents posted reports in online forums of negative results such as weight loss after giving the product to their children.

Cao Ngan Ha, a mother, wrote that she had fed her baby with formula milk since birth and that he had grown quickly during the first six months. But when he started eating, he suffered from constipation and Ha switched to Danlait hoping that goat milk would ease the condition.

The baby's teeth began growing more slowly in addition to losing half a kilo within two months of consuming the product, she said. Prompted to research Danlait, Ha's friends in France told her that they had never heard of Danlait, or FIT, which was named the producer and is advertised by Manh Cam as being the leading goat milk producer in Europe.

"Danlait is sold widely from unofficial sources on the market, and I was cautious enough to buy it from the official distributor. And it's still a blunt scam," Ha told Tuoi Tre.

She went on the product's website www.danlait.fr, saying it was rather simple with some basic design mistakes that caused her to suspect it was fake.

"There're no reasons for a website of a large French corporation to use Vietnamese language in the log in section for the administrators. And several photo files on the website were saved in Vietnamese," she said.

The mother said she had called Manh Cam expressing her concerns but a representative failed to ease her doubts.

But Dang Minh Sang, deputy director of Manh Cam, told local media the company had received no complaints from customers and that any negative information about Danlait was being spread by its competitors.

Sang managed to present certificates of origin and certificates of quality that had been approved by Vietnam's Food Safety Department.

Yet Tran Quang Trung, head of the department, said he has requested the French embassy in Hanoi to provide further confirmation of product's origin and whether or not it is sold in France. Many parents suspect the product actually comes from China, the notorious origin of many fake, poor-quality, toxic products available in Vietnam.

News website VnExpress said the first Danlait products arrived in Vietnam in 2011, brought by people as individual luggage. Manh Cam officially began distributing Danlait in February of last year and has imported 40,380 cans of the product.

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