New Zealand reacts to dairy product contamination scandal

  • January 29, 2013
  • Allison Van Beers

Commercial farming chemical Dicyandiamide (DCD) has been voluntarily suspended in New Zealand after traces were found in New Zealand-based dairy products.

DCD is used in the farming process to prevent the fertilizer by-product nitrate entering waterways, and is also used as a means of “promoting pasture growth.”

Although DCD is not considered a food safety risk, New Zealand’s largest dairy producer Fonterra has supported the voluntary suspension.

“DCD has never at any point been a food safety issue – and if it had been, we would have been the first to speak out. Fonterra has one of the highest standard food supply chains in the world, and safety is part of our DNA,” Fonterra Chief Executive Theo Spierings said.

The New Zealand Minister for Primary Industries issued precautionary measures including the testing of the country’s dairy products and further investigation into the use of DCD on farm land.

“Because no standard exists, the detectable presence of DCD residues in milk could be unacceptable to consumers and our international markets, even in the small amounts found in recent testing”, said a MPI spokesperson.

Wayne McNee, the MPI Director-General clarified that “the European Commission has set an acceptable daily intake for DCD, and based on the highest DCD residue that was detected in New Zealand milk products, a 60 kg person would have to drink more than 130 litres of liquid milk…to reach the Commission’s limit for an acceptable daily intake, and considerably more to have any health effects”.

According to New Zealand authorities, DCD has been used commercially by less than 5 per cent of New Zealand dairy farmers since 2004.


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