Tainted NZ Infant Milk Concern Includes
WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Concerns over low-level traces of the industrial chemical melamine in one of New Zealand's highest-priced dairy exports have spread to Australia as officials consider whether the manufacturing process causes the contamination, a food safety official said Tuesday.
New Zealand's Tatua Cooperative Dairy Co. on Monday stopped exports of the dairy protein lactoferrin, used mainly in baby formula, after tests showed it contained four parts per million of melamine.
Milk products that have been blamed for killing at least four children in China and leaving tens of thousands of others sickened had melamine levels of about 2,500 parts per million.
Tatua said a Chinese customer told
its agent two weeks ago that melamine had been detected in its lactoferrin powder. Further tests in both
Food safety officials are now investigating whether lactoferrin manufactured by Westland Milk products on South Island and Australia's Victoria state dairy company, Tatura, which uses the same process, are being contaminated with melamine by the manufacturing process it uses.
New Zealand Food Safety Authority tests have shown melamine
contamination of about 1 part per million in
"This trace level may have arisen out of this (company's) specific, unique (manufacturing) process," said NZFSA director of compliance and investigation, Dr. Geoff Allen.
Investigators are waiting for test results on samples sent
Fonterra is a partial owner of
Allen said low-level contamination was not considered a health hazard.
"Without exception, all results fall below the safety
threshold set by NZFSA and also fall below any safety limits set by other food
safety regulators around the world, including (the)
Lactoferrin is usually sold as a minor ingredient and industry officials have claimed that any contamination in the end product would be undetectable, and only measurable in parts per billion.
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