Preliminary tests show no toxic substance in NZ milk powder: FDA
The China Post News StaffAs of yesterday evening the Department of Health (DOH) had found no traces of a potentially harmful chemical in milk formula imported from New Zealand, the CNA reported.
January 28, 2013, 12:00 am TWN
In the wake of a health scare, the DOH conducted random sampling tests on New Zealand baby and infant milk formula to confirm whether the chemical compound dicyandiamide (DCD) was present, the CNA reported. The DOH reported no positive results.
The DOH's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will look to repeat tests, with an eye to announcing these results today. FDA Director-General Kang Jaw-jou (康照洲) said yesterday there were several samples that had yet to undergo testing, but he did not believe that DCD would be found and he believed there was “no problem” with food safety, CNA said.
The DOH has not yet requested that imported New Zealand milk formula be taken off shelves. Kang said he did not believe that would change unless the final results created “special circumstances.”
DCD is used in agriculture to improve the effectiveness of fertilizer through reducing ammonia loss, according to the FDA. In the soil, DCD can degrade into carbon dioxide, water and ammonia.
New Zealand is the only country in the world currently spraying DCD over its pastures.
Products Safe: Milk Group
New Zealand's Fonterra Co-operative Group (恒天然乳品), an alliance of three milk companies, also issued a statement yesterday seeking to quell fears, saying that the level of DCD in the products is less than 1 percent of the EU's safety threshold reference, media reports said.
The ongoing health scare originated with reports that New Zealand milk contained the substance. Fonterra come out saying its products contained very small amounts — 0.1 parts per million — of DCD.
In its statement, Fonterra emphasized that since November of last year it had been cooperating with authorities, other milk companies, the fertilizer industry and the scientific community to gather information and perform a variety of tests, according to reports. Fonterra said the results showed that its products were safe.
Media reports have raised questions over whether the group did not go public earlier due to fears that doing so would endanger its reputation.
Fonterra emphasized that the amount of DCD that was shown in its products was far below the Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) threshold of 1 milligram of DCD per kilogram of a baby's body weight. Europe's Scientific Committee for Food designated this recommended threshold, according to the CNA. There is currently no established standard for DCD tolerance.
In response, the FDA's Kang said he wants to investigate further why DCD, originally intended as a component of chemical fertilizers, has found its way into milk products, CNA said.
According to the FDA's statistics, imports of New Zealand's baby milk powder have totaled approximately 2.99 million kilograms, equal to 21.73 percent of all baby milk powder imports, since 2012. Imports of New Zealand's general milk powder have totaled 41.91 million kilograms, equaling 78.93 percent of imports in the same category.