China woes for New Zealand’s Fonterra, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, continued on Thursday, when it announced that it had been forced to withdraw 42 tonnes of milk powder bound for the Chinese market because of high nitrate levels.
Fonterra had to apologise for a milk powder contamination scare in China after contaminated whey protein concentrate had been sold to China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Saudi Arabia, and used in products including infant milk powder and sports drinks.
Fonterra’s food safety and quality director, Ian Palliser, said the milk powder showed nitrate levels of between 1.4 parts per million and 1.8 ppm when it was shipped from New Zealand, but showed higher levels in Chinese tests. “The limit is two parts per million in China and the product tested at somewhere between 2.4 ppm and 2.8 ppm,” Palliser said.
New Zealand foreign minister Murray McCully, currently visiting China performing damage control over the Fonterra scandal, said that when the company disappoints customers “they also disappoint New Zealand.”
In a statement that probably had them high-fiving all night long in Zhongnanhai, Chinese state councillor Yang Jiechi said the government hoped that New Zealand “will appropriately handle food safety issues […] and substantially ensure Chinese consumers’ interests.”
[Image: Murray McCully meets with Yan Jiechi in Beijing. Credit: Xinhua]