'Clean' milk sparks brawl in Hong Kong

2011-03-10 10:00

Hong Kong - Five people were arrested on Thursday for fighting in a Hong Kong supermarket over foreign-made baby milk powder.

Buyers from mainland China have been pouring into Hong Kong in recent weeks to snap up supplies of imported baby milk formula because of fears over the safety of locally-produced powder.

Police arrested five people on Thursday after a fight broke out as two Chinese buyers tried to buy more than the three-can limit at a pharmacy in the city centre.

At least one person was hit on the head with a tin of infant formula in the ensuing scuffle.

All five were treated for minor injuries and were due to appear in court charged with assault on Friday, a police spokesperson said.

Hong Kong shops have limited the number of cans sold to each shopper as buyers from China have been snapping up supplies.

Chinese customers are reportedly reluctant to buy infant formula in China because of recent melamine poisoning scares. In one of the worst cases, six infants died and 300 000 were injured by tainted milk powder in 2008.

Melamine is used to hide the fraudulent dilution of milk, as it boosts its apparent protein content.

Tins of imported Western-branded infant formula are being sold in China for up to twice their retail price in Hong Kong, resulting in a booming cross-border trade.