Taiwan wants NZ milk scare answers
The China Post news staff and CNATAIPEI, Taiwan -- Local health authorities yesterday demanded the New Zealand government and importers of that country's milk provide information on their products after a U.S. newspaper reported that a toxic substance was found in New Zealand dairy products.
January 26, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
The Department of Health (DOH) said nearly 80 percent of adult milk powder and 21.7 percent of infant milk powder in Taiwan is imported from New Zealand. The DOH has asked importers to examine if their products have came from pastures that have been using fertilizers containing dicyandiamide (DCD), a substance that The Wall Street Journal reported has been found in New Zealand dairy products.
Tsai Shu-chen (蔡淑貞), an official with the DOH's Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said DCD's toxicity is relatively low. There are 500 pastures in New Zealand which use fertilizers that contain DCD, Tsai said, adding that this is less than 5 percent of the country's pastures. Tsai said importers are required to submit reports to the DOH on Jan. 28 at the earliest.
The FDA earlier contacted the New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office (NZCIO) in Taipei to inquire into the allegedly contaminated dairy products, including asking about the degree of contamination. The FDA added that if the contaminated items pose health risks they will have to be removed from shelves immediately.
In response, the NZCIO released a statement yesterday acknowledging that “low levels of DCD have been detected in a small number of milk powder products” but said that there is no food safety concern associated with DCD use.
“DCD is a nonharmful, water-soluble compound ... At present less than 5 percent of New Zealand dairy farms use DCD,” the office said.
New Zealand's Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd., a New Zealand dairy product producer, said in a statement “DCD residuals in agricultural products may present a future trade issue.”
According to CNA, New Zealand's dairy exports are valued at NZ$11.5 billion (around US$9.7 billion).
Nestle Taiwan Ltd. spokesperson Liang Chia-rui said in a statement that the company's New Zealand adult milk powder satisfied local government hygiene and safety regulations. The company has confirmed the safety and quality of the products, said Liang.
Wei Chuan Food Corp. said their quality control center examines the products strictly and regularly.
Lin Chieh-liang (林杰樑), director of the Department of Toxicology at Linkuo Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, said high doses of DCD irritate human skin and mucous membrane, potentially causing dermatitis. Exposure to low levels of DCD for a long period of time may lead to liver damage, Lin added.
In this Nov. 5, 2004 image, a plane flies over a farm with cattle as it prepares to land at Auckland International Airport. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, Dec. 24 that ...