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NZ processor attempts to ‘allay’ customer DCD concerns

By Mark Astley , 31-Jan-2013

Westland Milk Products has attempted to reassure its customers about the safety of its products following the discovery of dicyandiamide (DCD) in samples.

The Hokitika-based firm, which boasts a portfolio including milk powders and proteins, announced in a statement that traces of DCD had been found in samples of its products manufactured before 1 November 2012.

It added, however, that evidence so far indicates that products manufactured after 1 November 2012 are free of the agricultural chemical.

DCD is applied to pasture by farmers to prevent nitrate – a potentially-harmful fertiliser by-product – leaching into rivers and lakes.

The sale and use of DCD was suspended last week after it emerged that residues of the substance had been discovered in samples of some Fonterra dairy products.

DCD residue “undesirable” to customers

Westland Milk Products commissioned an independent laboratory to test its products earlier this week – as advised by the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI).

DCD has never been considered to be a food safety risk, and there is no international standard for it in food. Despite this, concerns about the safety of New Zealand dairy have spread.

According to reports, authorities in China, Malaysia and Taiwan have stepped-up their checks on New Zealand dairy shipments in response to the findings.

Westland Milk Products CEO, Rod Quin has attempted to dispel customer concerns about the “undesirable” presence of DCD.

“While we are assured by independent health authorities and the New Zealand Government that DCD is not a food safety risk, we are very aware that for many of our customers any residue in milk products is undesirable,” said Quin.

“Some of our customers in Asia have already requested tests for DCD following the MPI announcement last week.”

“The best way to allay our customers’ fears is with accurate information,” he said.

“We will continue to work with the New Zealand dairy industry, MPI and Government to reassure suppliers, customers and stakeholders that DCD is not harmful to human health and that every step to remedy this situation and prevent its on-going occurrence is being taken,” he added.

Customers can “rest assured”

Westland Milk Products’ attempt to calm fears about the safety of its products comes just days after Fonterra issued a similar statement in an effort to defuse growing concern amongst its customers.

“It is important to remember that the minute traces detected were around 100 tomes lower than acceptable levels under European food safety limits,” said Fonterra CEO, Theo Spierings.

“The bottom line? Our products are safe. Customers can rest assured,” he said.

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