China bans more dairy imports from New Zealand

China bans more dairy imports from New Zealand

China bans more dairy imports from New Zealand

This file photo shows a baby staying in a shopping cart as his mother selects baby milk in a supermarket in Haikou, in south China’s Hainan province. AFP photo

More New Zealand milk products sold to China have been banned after elevated levels of nitrates were found, raising further concerns over quality and testing in the world’s largest dairy exporter in the wake of a contamination scare earlier this month.

New Zealand’s agricultural regulator said yesterday that 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, New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) said. “Any food safety risk to Chinese consumers is negligible because the quantities of lactoferrin used in consumer products was very small, meaning the nitrate levels in those products would easily be within acceptable levels”, Scott Gallacher, the acting director-general of the MPI, said.

The announcement comes just weeks after Westland’s much bigger competitor, Fonterra, said some of its dairy ingredients were contaminated with 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.

“We’re well aware of the wider context of the issue and related concerns, so we’ve acted to make sure the product don’t go any further,” Westland Chief Executive Rod Quin said.

China’s top quality watchdog said it had halted all imports of the product from Westland and asked other New Zealand dairy companies exporting lactoferrin to provide nitrate test reports.

The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of China urged the New Zealand government to thoroughly scrutinize its dairy companies.