WORLD NEWS: More New Zealand dairy products sold to China have been banned after elevated levels of nitrates were found, raising further concerns regarding testing and quality in the world's largest dairy exporter in the wake of a contamination scare earlier this month.
The New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said today it has revoked export certificates for four China- bound consignments of lactoferrin manufactured by Westland Milk Products after higher- than-acceptable nitrate levels were found by tests in China.
Two of the four consignments had been shipped to China but had not reached consumers, the MPI added. Lactoferrin is a naturally occurring protein found in milk.
According to MPI, the consignments were derived from two affected batches of lactoferrin manufactured by Westland at its Hokitika factory. One batch was exported directly to China as an ingredient for other dairy products by Westland, and the second batch was supplied to Tatua Co-operative Dairy Company and also exported to China.
"All of these products are now confirmed as detained in the supply chain. There was no affected lactoferrin used in products in New Zealand," a statement from MPI noted.
"MPI, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the companies concerned are working closely with the Chinese authorities on this issue," MPI acting director-general Scott Gallacher said. “MPI has sent a team to the Hokitika factory to confirm how this problem arose and verify the problem is limited to just the two batches identified. It appears to be so, at this time.
“The consignments exported to China were accompanied by official export certificates stating that the product complies with New Zealand and China’s regulatory requirements. This was based on testing of composited batches undertaken at the time of manufacturing, which showed no issue. We now know that is not the case and certification has been withdrawn,” Gallacher added.
The announcement comes just weeks after Westland's main competitor, Fonterra, said some of its dairy ingredients were contaminated with a botulism-causing bacteria. This prompted a recall of infant formula products, sports drinks and other products in China, New Zealand and other Asia-Pacific nations.