News / Asia

New Zealand Company's Contaminated Milk Scare Hits China Hard

Fonterra - Powdered Milk China
Fonterra - Powdered Milk China
Ron Corben
New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra is apologizing after milk powder used in products exported to China and other countries in Asia was found to contain bacteria that could cause botulism.

The head of the milk powder exporter, chief executive Theo Spierings made the apology Monday after China suspended imports of its products after the possible contamination was revealed.

Fonterra, the world's largest dairy exporter, found bacteria in some of its products that may lead to botulism, a serious paralytic illness that can be fatal. The company has issued a recall across Asia.

Almost 90 percent of China's $1.9 billion in milk powder imports came from New Zealand in 2012. Chinese consumers already purchase much of their infant formula from foreign manufacturers because of fears of contamination in domestically produced milk.

Spierings spoke to reporters Monday in Beijing.

"In this situation we apologize, we deeply apologize to the people who have been affected by the issue to guarantee to you that food safety and the safety of the people of the [People's] Republic of China and also around the world is our first and foremost interest," he said.

Fonterra Chief Executive Theo Spierlings talks to the media in Beijing, Aug. 5, 2013.Fonterra Chief Executive Theo Spierlings talks to the media in Beijing, Aug. 5, 2013.
x
Fonterra Chief Executive Theo Spierlings talks to the media in Beijing, Aug. 5, 2013.
Fonterra Chief Executive Theo Spierlings talks to the media in Beijing, Aug. 5, 2013.
Spierings also said no products tested and sold in China showed any contamination and the company had not received any reports of health issues or consumer complaints about the tainted batches.

There are no reports so far of anyone falling ill from the contamination.

That did not appease New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, who suggested the company should have taken more precautions after discovering bacteria in earlier testing.    
 
The contaminated whey protein concentrate had been exported to several other markets, including Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia. The powder was used in products including infant milk powder and sports drinks. Russia has temporarily suspended purchases of all New Zealand dairy products.
 
A World Health Organization senior official, Howard Sobel, said the scare highlights WHO concerns over infant formula and the potential threat of poisoning.

"What we can say is that powder infant formula is not a sterile product," Sobel said. "It's even made to the best of manufacturing at the base line you will find lots of different bacteria in there. Botulism is basically a relatively rare one to find in it but we find that and many other bacteria and other contaminants in formula."

The WHO promotes breast feeding over the use of formula because breast milk provides children with key antibodies and better nutrition. According to the WHO, more than 220,000 children die each year from poor hygiene and food contamination.

The latest health scare comes five years after a Chinese dairy company was found to be adding melamine, a chemical used in plastics, to boost infant formulas. More than six children died from poisoning, and hundreds fell ill.

The scandal led to a sharp increase in demand for foreign-made infant formula, causing shortages in some places.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid