FONTERRA is still trying to track down and contain a small amount of product potentially contaminated by a bacteria that could cause botulism.
Fonterra’s general manager for New Zealand milk products Gary Romano told media on Tuesday evening that the dairy giant’s customers have accounted for all but a small amount of product caught up in the whey contamination scandal.
“Our customers are all working around the clock to identify all of the products,” he said.
Despite some product still being unaccounted for, Mr Romano said Fonterra has not yet received any notifications of health problems resulting from products already on the market worldwide.
In New Zealand, infant formula maker Nutricia decided to recall all of its potentially botulism-affected Karicare formula after getting more information from Fonterra.
Nutricia was initially only recalling limited batch numbers of Stage 1 New Baby Infant Formula and Stage Gold+ 2 Follow-on Formula.
The move was welcomed by the Ministry of Primary Industries.
“It’s critical that any products that are a potential risk to public health are removed until we can be assured they are safe,” ministry director Scott Gallacher said.
Meanwhile, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key says that overall there has been a measured response to the contamination scare from the international markets.
“This issue will obviously have implications for our export markets and we are working closely with our trading partners to keep them informed and to get them the latest information as soon as it comes to hand,” he said.
Finance Minister Bill English told parliament he expects the local economy will only suffer a small hit from the food scare.
It’s been confirmed that Russia has not imposed a ban on all New Zealand dairy products.
“Russia has not taken any action against whey or otherwise,” Trade Minister Tim Groser told media on Tuesday morning.
“We were told ‘they’re banning everything’… But we’ve been told this morning that is not a correct interpretation of their actions, and so far, nothing has been done. It’s not a ban at all.”
However, China’s state-run news agency has severely criticised the New Zealand government’s attitude to quality control and the “communications failures” surrounding the contamination crisis.
In a commentary published on the China Daily’s website, Xinhua says there are systemic problems in the way the government deals with quality control.
The article says Fonterra might have come out of it with some credit if it had moved quickly to isolate the affected products.
The New Zealand dollar has recovered on Tuesday and Fonterra shares have also rebounded.