Sri Lanka lifts temporary ban on Fonterra milk powder sales


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Sri Lanka lifts temporary ban on Fonterra milk powder sales

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Sri Lanka has lifted a temporary ban on the sale of three batches of Fonterra milk powder after "no food safety or quality issue" was identified during tests.

In a statement issued late last week, New Zealand-based Fonterra confirmed it had been given the go-ahead by the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health to recommence the sale of three batches, reportedly totaling 76 tonnes, of Anchor full cream milk powder.

Earlier this month, it ordered Fonterra to temporarily halt the the sale of the 400g units following several reports of illness in children.

The complaints - one received by Fonterra and the other two by the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health - reportedly originated in Girandurukotte, a village around 130 miles from the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo.

Earlier tests conducted by Fonterra Brands Sri Lanka on the three Anchor whole cream milk powder batches, manufactured at the company's Biyagama Powder Plant, "confirmed no food safety or quality issues." 

Leon Clement, managing director, Fonterra Brands Sri Lanka, said the company had always been confident the Ministry of Health investigation would conclude the batches were safe to consume.

The Anchor milk powder in question was manufactured at Fonterra's Biyagama plant.

“We were concerned to be informed a consumer had become ill and launched an immediate investigation to help try to find out what could be affixing them and to rule out any issues with our product,”​ said Clement.

“We have been working with the Ministry of Health to lift the temporary hold and are pleased that the Ministry’s investigation has confirmed our own internal findings that there is no food safety or quality issue with our product," ​he added.

The temporary suspension handed down by the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health is just the latest setback suffered by Fonterra in Sri Lanka.

In August 2013, the company brought operations in the country to a halt after angry demonstrators gathered outside its head office near Colombo to vent their concerns about the safety of Anchor milk powder​.

Earlier in the month, Fonterra confirmed it had been ordered to remove 39 tonnes of Anchor milk powder from shelves after tests found low levels of agricultural chemical dicyandiamide (DCD) in two batches.

DCD is a chemical applied to pasture by farmers to prevent nitrate seeping into rivers and lakes.

Fonterra restarted operations less than a week later after determining that there was "no risk to Fonterra staff"​ and that the situation had "been stabilized."

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