Government defends Fonterra's safety
Mon, 28 Jan 2013 6:09p.m.
By Rachel Tiffen
The Government is defending Fonterra and the safety of its dairy products following the discovery of an agricultural chemical in milk.
Traces of dicyandiamide (DCD) were detected four months ago in some of the dairy giant’s milk products, and the issue has received international media attention.
However, Fonterra swears it has nothing to hide, and claims the DCD was found in such tiny quantities they weren't worth mentioning.
The substance is found in certain fertilisers and is used to prevent nitrogen seeping into waterways. It also contains tiny amounts of melamine, which was the offending chemical in the Chinese milk scandal of 2008 where more than 50,000 children were hospitalised.
Prime Minster John Key is siding with Fonterra.
“You'd have to drink the equivalent of a swimming pool full of milk to have any issues whatsoever,” he says.
“Of course in international markets, which are fragile, there's always concern.”
Federated Farmers vice president William Ralston says the international attention is unwarranted and the fact DCD was picked up - in such tiny quantities - shows how thorough systems are.
“Let's make it quite clear this is not a safety issue, this is an issue of international paperwork. It's actually safer than table salt and it's safer than the chlorine that you have in the water that keeps our water safe,” says Dr Ralston.
The Ministry of Primary Industries maintains it is not a food safety issue.
“It was never that critical. What we wanted to do was get the facts, talk to the companies that own the product and determine what best to do,” says Primary Industries Minister David Carter.
Two of those companies, Balance and Ravensdown, have pulled all DCD products.
Both the Chinese and the Taiwanese are conducting random DCD testing on New Zealand milk being imported into their countries.
Units in the Fonterra shareholder fund dropped 1.5 percent today.
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29/01/2013 8:26:44 p.m.
The reality is Fonterra milk is still the cleanest and highest quality you can buy around the world.EU standard allow 100x as much DCD in their milk and then its still acceptable. Let me guess, since the organics not tested for DCD this blindness will in many eye make it cleaner?How about we get some international testing done and find out if organic milk is cleaner? Given the organic the ones looking to be green and reduce nitrogen runoff, its probably the organics with the highest levels of DCD in the milk! But then we have people saying it will be better to drink organic than Fonterra, because they haven't thought it through. What rigorous testing is done on the organics, and do they test for DCD? Every pickup from every fonterra supplier is tested which makes Fonterra milk about the most tested and cleanest milk in the world. If it was a workplace, think of daily drug testing of all employees, and how any union would allow that. The Fonterra testing is rigorous, and its that tough testing and enforment that drives its cleanliness.They have found DCD residue in the milk in very tiny amounts, and with it they have clssified the cause and asked all farmers to stop using the DCD treatment to reduce nitrogen runoff. Next they will grade any farmers found to still be using DCD, ie it wont be worth Fonterra picking up the milk, so the farmers will comply.
28/01/2013 6:45:09 p.m.
Unfortunately for Mr Key and Fonterra is that it is all about 'perception'. Had to admit that I cringed when I heard that there were trace amounts of DCD in our milk. I know I'll be buying organic milk in future (in the hope that DCD levels in this milk is better). Sorry, but I don't like buying anything pure "with trace amounts" of something else in it. Time the dairy industry here cleaned up their act.
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