NEW ZEALAND – The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) has proposed a range of interim food safety measures to save New Zealand's reputation in light of recent Fonterra and Westland powder recalls.
The ministry measures will involve greater ‘regulatory presence’ at manufacturing plants and an improvement in dairies identifying non-compliance issues.
Additionally, the MPI will run test simulations to evaluate industry response times to track products through the supply chain and increase risk management reviews at dairies.
The measures will reinforce consumer confidence in dairy products from New Zealand, said Scott Gallacher, acting director general of the MPI.
Last week, industry leaders called for fast action in the face of the Fonterra botulism scare.
In addition to whey protein contaminations, a further product recall has been announced this week for Westland milk products lactofferin powder.
On Monday, Westland milk products revealed they had traced and quarantined two batches of lactofferin powder totalling 390 kilograms after Chinese testing procedures found nitrate levels to be above the standard limit.
The company has clearly stated that the levels of nitrate in the powder never posed any food safety risk to Chinese consumers although comes as a further blow to the New Zealand’s image after the Fonterra debacle.
Westland Milk Products Chief Executive, Rod Quin revealed all of the 390 kg had been shipped to China.
Mr Quin reported the lactoferrin batches registered nitrate levels of 610 and 2198 parts per million respectively, considerably above the New Zealand limit of 150 parts per million.
Mr Quin reassured that nitrates occur naturally in vegetables and that there was no food safety risk as lactofferin is not a major food ingredient.
“Food safety is not the issue in this instance because lactoferrin is used as a very minor ingredient in food products. This means that, even if the lactoferrin with elevated nitrates had been added to food, the retail products would still have nitrate levels significantly below allowed limits,” said Mr Quin.
Westland said that all products tested to date had nitrate levels ‘significantly below allowed limits’ and a re-testing procedure of all individual batches had been enforced across its warehouses.
Lactoferrin products have been put on hold in the interim period.
Mr Quin added: “Based on these results and our investigations to date, Westland is of the view it is an isolated incident in the lactoferrin plant only, where traces of cleaning products (which contains nitrates) were not adequately flushed from the plant prior to a new run of product."
Go to our previous news item on the Fonterra botulism scare by clicking here.
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