China bans more New Zealand dairy products on new contamination scare
By Naomi Tajitsu
WELLINGTON (Reuters) - More New Zealand milk products sold to China have been banned after elevated levels of nitrates were found, raising further concerns over quality and testing in the world's largest dairy exporter in the wake of a contamination scare earlier this month.
New Zealand's agricultural regulator said on Monday it has revoked export certificates for four China-bound consignments of lactoferrin manufactured by Westland Milk Products after higher- than-acceptable nitrate levels were found by tests in China.
Two of the four consignments had been shipped to China but had not reached consumers, New Zealand's Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) said.
"Any food safety risk to Chinese consumers is negligible because the quantities of lactoferrin used in consumer products was very small, meaning the nitrate levels in those products would easily be within acceptable levels", Scott Gallacher, the acting director-general of the MPI, said in a statement.
The announcement comes just weeks after Westland's much bigger competitor, Fonterra, said some of its dairy ingredients were contaminated with a botulism-causing bacteria. This prompted a recall of infant formula products, sports drinks and other products in China, New Zealand and other Asia-Pacific nations.
"All of the product has been located, none of it has entered the retail food chain," Westland Chief Executive Rod Quin told Reuters. "We're well aware of the wider context of the issue and related concerns, so we've acted to make sure the product doesn't go any further."
China's top quality watchdog said it had halted all imports of the product from Westland and asked other New Zealand dairy companies exporting lactoferrin to provide nitrate test reports.
The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of China urged the New Zealand government to thoroughly scrutinize its dairy companies as well as their products to ensure the safety of exports to China, New Zealand's top dairy market. Continued...