Fonterra issues contamination warning for infant formula

Dairy giant Fonterra warned on Saturday that an ingredient used in its baby formula products and sports drinks could potentially be fatal.

The whey protein concentrate could contain a bacterium that can cause botulism – a potentially fatal paralytic illness the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

There is believed to be five batches of the contaminated product, three which are currently being warehoused in Auckland, one in Australia and another in transit.

Parents in both New Zealand and Australia have been urged to not stop using the product, Nutricia Karicare Follow-On formula, immediately.

A statement released by the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry said that the department was aware of a possible contamination of a dairy food ingredient which was exported to Australia and are ‘‘working closely with New Zealand authorities to identify any food safety implications for consumers in Australia’’.

It is reported that 38 tonnes of the whey protein concentrate which was manufactured at Fonterra’s Hautapu plant in May 2012, was contaminated by an unsanitary pipe.

Fonterra initially identified an issue in March this year after a product tested positive for Clostridium, (many stains of which Fonterra says are harmless to human health) however a positive test for clostridium botulinum was recorded on Wednesday last week.

“Food safety is Fonterra’s number one priority. We take matters of public health extremely seriously and we are doing everything we can to assist our customers in ensuring any product containing this ingredient is removed from the marketplace and that the public is made aware,” said Theo Spierings, Fonterra’s Chief Executive.  

“We are acting quickly. Our focus is to get information out about potentially affected product as fast as possible so that it can be taken off supermarket shelves and, where it has already been purchased, can be returned,”

“We are working closely with New Zealand’s regulatory authority – the Ministry for Primary Industries – to keep New Zealand and offshore regulators informed.”

Nutricia Karicare is imported to Australia, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.


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