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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid