Fonterra has challenged the accuracy of Sri Lankan tests for agricultural chemical, dicyandiamide (DCD), after it was ordered to pull two batches of apparently contaminated milk powder from shelves in the country.
In a statement sent to DairyReporter.com, New Zealand-based Fonterra confirmed that last month, under the orders of the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health, it had initiated a recall of two batches - totalling 39 tonnes - of its Anchor brand milk powder.
The order was issued after tests on the recalled batches by the Sri Lankan Industrial Technology Institute (ITI) identified levels of DCD – a chemical applied to pasture by farmers to prevent nitrate seeping into rivers and lakes.
Despite complying with the Ministry's request, Fonterra has challenged the accuracy of the testing methods employed by ITI to test for DCD.
“While independent and internationally accredited labs have carried over 200 tests on our Fonterra consumer branded products in Sri Lanka and found no traces of DCD, we are complying with this directive and removing this small amount of product from retail shelves,” said Fonterra Brands Sri Lanka managing director, Leon Clement.
According to Clement, Sri Lanka “does not have the required technology to test for DCD in milk products.”
“These inaccurate testing results have caused a lot of confusion for the public and we want to ensure that people know that they can continue to consume Anchor, a product that many Sri Lankans grew up on,” said Clement.
“We are committed to working with the Government to help clarify this situation to ensure that we avoid unnecessary confusion for our consumers in the future.”
Fonterra hopes that by working with the Sri Lankan government it can “correct the misinformation about DCD in Fonterra’s milk powder products, following the inaccurate testing results produced by Sri Lanka’s Industrial Technology Institute (ITI).”
No international DCD standard
Concerns about DCD first emerged in January 2013, when it was revealed that low levels of the substance had been discovered in samples Fonterra milk powder.
While DCD has never been considered to be a food safety risk, there is no international standard for it in food.
As a result, authorities in a number of countries including China and Malaysia stepped-up there checks on shipments of New Zealand dairy products. Sri Lanka continues to test for the chemical in each batch of Fonterra product entering the country, according to Fonterra.