New contamination scare hits New Zealand dairy industry

WELLINGTON, August 19, 2013 (AFP) – A new contamination scare hit New Zealand’s multi-billion dollar dairy industry on Monday after it was revealed a milk product with excessive nitrate levels had been exported to China.

Both New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) and the company at the centre of the latest scare, Westlake Milk, insisted the product called lactoferrin did not pose a safety risk.

But the timing could not be worse for the country’s dairy industry — which generates a quarter of New Zealand’s exports — as it struggles to recover from a botulism contamination crisis earlier this month.

Westland said two batches of lactoferrin totalling 390kg (860 pounds) were exported to China despite showing nitrate levels of 610 and 2,198 parts per million — well above the New Zealand standard of 150 parts per million.

Chief executive Rod Quin said it appeared the contamination was an isolated incident caused when cleaning products were not properly flushed from a South Island processing plant before a new run of product was sent through.

“We immediately initiated a process to find and quarantine all of the product and it has been put on hold,” he said.

The government said that b