In the 1960s and 1970s, milk was rationed in China and only made available to a privileged few. Read more.

There seem to be lingering vestiges of that, even as China pushes into the modern age.

A recent situation involving the Chinese space program casts doubt on just how egalitarian the dairy distribution system has become.

According to this story from International Business News, extravagant measures are in place to ensure the safety of the food that the Chinese astronauts receive. That includes the milk they drink.

Special organic farms have been set up near the Jiuquan Space Launch Center.

Milk from the farms was selected from the healthiest and most robust of the animals, International Business News reported. “Those lucky dairy cows were then raised in isolated shelters and given a month of rest so they had enough time to discharge any possible chemicals from their bodies before their milk was collected.”

That has angered some of the “regular people” in China.

“When can average citizens eat (anything) as safe as this?” one person wrote.

To the extent the Chinese people can gain confidence in dairy products -- produced both domestically and abroad -- there is the potential for more exports from the United States. But problems with domestic production in China, such as the melamine scandal in 2008, haven't helped matters. Based on the various contamination issues that have arisen in recent years, "one wonders whether the country's parents would be confident of having their children drink milk now, even if there were enough to go around," the International Business News article said.

The flap over giving Chinese astronauts the best milk draws even more attention to the quality divide.