China treads carefully on Fonterra and other products
New Zealand based dairy giant Fonterra has said that Chinese authorities have not imposed a ‘blanket ban’ on imports of the Company’s products after the announcement of a contaminated batch of whey protein powder. Fonterra has also said that products produced by three of its customers that received the affected whey protein concentrate, Coca-Cola, Wahaha and Vitaco, a safe to consume because of the way they are manufactured.
Chinese ban ‘temporary’ and ‘specific’
Fonterra said it had received confirmation from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) that Chinese authorities had temporarily suspended importation of whey powder and dairy base powder (a whey-based dairy ingredient used in the manufacture of infant formula) produced by Fonterra, or produced in Australia using Fonterra’s whey protein powder as an ingredient.
The Company said China had also increased inspection and supervision at the border for New Zealand dairy products, and indicated extra testing may be required.
“MPI has confirmed that China has not closed the market to New Zealand dairy products – and that China is being quite specific about the range of Fonterra products which it has temporarily suspsended,” said Gary Romano, NZ Milk Products Managing Director for Fonterra. “Whole Milk Powder and Skim Milk Powder have not been suspended,” he said.
“We have been told that MPI is not aware of any additional market closures. It is, however, getting clarity on reports that Russia appears to have put a temporary ban on New Zealand dairy products,” Mr Romano said.
Fonterra said it was continuing to work closely with the MPI “to manage food safety concerns in New Zealand and around the world”.
“Our top priority is the safety of consumers, and working with customers and regulators to make sure the public is protected,” Mr Romano said.
Coke, Wahaha and Vitaco products ‘safe to consume’
Meanwhile, Fonterra has announced that the products produced by Coca-Cola, Wahaha and Vitaco, which all received the whey protein concentrate (WPC80), are safe to consume because of the way they are manufactured.
Fonterra said the three beverage companies use whey protein concentrate in either UHT, yoghurt or acid beverage products.
“Our technical teams have been working closely this weekend with Coca-Cola, Wahaha and Vitaco and have established that the process used to manufacture their products would kill the bacteria that was in the affected whey protein concentrate,” Mr Romano said.
“In the case of Coca-Cola and Wahaha, the combination of low pH and ultra-high temperature treatment gives us complete confidence that acid beverages and yoghurts (pH less than 4.5) are safe. In the case of Vitaco, the ultra-high temperature treatment gives us the same confidence,” Mr Romano said.
Fonterra announced on 2 August 2013 that three batches of a particular type of whey protein concentrate produced at a single New Zealand manufacturing site in May 2012 had been shown to potentially contain Clostridium Botulinum, which can cause botulism, a rare but sometimes fatal paralytic illness.