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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid