Fonterra Apologizes for Contamination of Dairy Products

Manila Bulletin, August 6, 2013 | Go to article overview

Fonterra Apologizes for Contamination of Dairy Products


Beijing (Reuters) - New Zealand's Fonterra apologised on Monday for a milk powder contamination scare in China that has raised safety concerns that threaten New Zealand's $9 billion annual dairy trade and Fonterra's own business in a top market.

Fonterra, the world's biggest dairy exporter, said over the weekend that it had found bacteria in some products that could cause botulism. It said contaminated whey protein concentrate had been exported to China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Saudi Arabia and used in products including infant milk powder and sports drinks.

At a media briefing in Beijing after hurriedly flying to deal with the fallout in one of its largest markets, Fonterra's chief executive, Theo Spierings, said food safety was the company's top priority.

"We really regret the distress and anxiety which this issue could have caused,'' he said. "We totally understand there is concern by parents and other consumers around the world. Parents have the right to know that infant nutrition and other dairy products are harmless and safe.''

The company was not facing a ban on its products in China, only restrictions on whey protein concentrate, he said, adding that 38 metric tons of whey protein concentrate were contaminated, of which 18 metric tons were used in its own factories in Australia and New Zealand to produce milk formula for two customers.

In China, Spierings said that products from two companies, Coca-Cola Co and Chinese food firm Wahaha, are safe because any bacteria would be killed during processing. Protein drinks made by Auckland-based Vitaco Health Group Ltd, another Fonterra customer, were also unaffected for the same reason. …

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