September 15, 2008


New Zealand's Fonterra outraged at Sanlu's handling of contaminated milk 



Fonterra has urged San Lu to order a full-scale recall of its milk products at least a month before it was actually implemented, CEO Andrew Ferrier revealed Monday ( Sep 15, 2008).


New Zealand's Fonterra, owns 43 percent of the Chinese San Lu Company whose products have made 430 infants and caused at least one death in China.


San Lu had no choice but to work within Chinese government guidelines, who ordered the recall just a week ago.


San Lu's formula milk was manufactured with milk contaminated by melamine, a toxin found in fertilisers and cleaning products, and is blamed for causing kidney stones in the sick infants.


Ferrier described the incident as "sabotage" but said it was not clear whether the melamine had been added by farmers as a fake protein to bulk up their milk, as has been reported from China, or if it was a deliberate attack on the San Lu-Fonterra joint venture.


Fonterra is the world's biggest single exporter of dairy products, sells consumer goods and food industry ingredients to 140 countries.


He said San Lu had withdrawn the contaminated formula from trade distribution as soon as the board, which has three Fonterra representatives, was advised on August 2, but a full public recall was not ordered until about a week ago, following procedures laid down by the Chinese health ministry.


Prime Minister Helen Clark said she had personally intervened after learning of the problem and directed New Zealand's ambassador to Beijing to tell Chinese officials her government was extremely concerned that the formula was still being sold.


China's food industry has been rocked by a number of scandals in recent years, undermining consumer trust in Chinese food exports and increasing pressure from countries like the United States and Japan to improve food standards.


Inspection of milk powder nationwide


Meanwhile, the Chinese government has sent inspection teams to four of China's main milk powder producing provinces to inspect local dairy producers and more than 150 state-level inspection centers are working round the clock to test samples from across the country.


Head of administration, Li Changjiang, says inspections will be performed on other dairy products following the baby milk powder tests. He also urges inspectors to examine all potentially problematic production procedures.


On Sunday, Li led an inspection group to the Hebei provincial quality inspection center and the laboratory of Hebei's entry-exit inspection and quarantine bureau. Other teams of officials have gone to Guangdong, and Heilongjiang provinces and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region to inspect local dairy producers.


The Group admitted that it had found some of its baby milk powder products were contaminated with melamine, a chemical substance strictly forbidden by the country to be used in food processing. It issued an immediate recall of milk formula made before August 6th.

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