News / Asia

New Zealand: Fonterra Milk Products Didn't Contain Botulism

A Sri Lankan child looks on in front of a placard as pro-government activists demonstrate against the alleged contamination of milk powder in front of the factory of New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra in the Colombo suburb of Biyagama, August 22, 2013.
A Sri Lankan child looks on in front of a placard as pro-government activists demonstrate against the alleged contamination of milk powder in front of the factory of New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra in the Colombo suburb of Biyagama, August 22, 2013.
VOA News
New Zealand government officials say a botulism scare that prompted a global recall of Fonterra dairy products never posed an actual health threat.

Fonterra, the world's largest dairy exporter, said this month that its own tests showed some of its milk products were tainted with a potentially fatal botulism bacteria.

The scare led to recalls of Fonterra products from China to Saudi Arabia and damaged New Zealand's reputation for providing top quality dairy products.

But New Zealand's Ministry of Primary Industries said Wednesday its extensive series of tests showed Fonterra misidentified the bacteria, saying it did not pose a health threat.

It said the bacteria in question was actually clostridium sporogenes, which could spoil milk products if found in large enough quantities.

New Zealand officials, however, defended their response to the initial tests, saying the government acted on what it knew at the time.

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