China lifts 2013 ban on Fonterra infant formula ingredients

By Mark ASTLEY contact

- Last updated on GMT

China implemented the temporary ban in the midst of the 2013 Fonterra botulism scare, which was found to be a false alarm.
China implemented the temporary ban in the midst of the 2013 Fonterra botulism scare, which was found to be a false alarm.

Related tags: New zealand-based fonterra, Milk, Fonterra

China has lifted its ban on the import of Fonterra two infant formula ingredients, more than a year after it was implemented in the midst of the 2013 botulism scare.

New Zealand-based Fonterra announced today in a notice posted on the New Zealand Exchange (NZX) website that the temporary Chinese August 2013 ban on the import of Fonterra whey powder and base powder - a whey-based ingredient used in the manufacture of infant formula - has been rescinded.

“Fonterra Cooperative Group Limited was today advised by the Ministry of Primary Industries that the Chinese government is lifting the temporary suspension for export of Fonterra base powder for infant formula (containing whey) and Fonterra whey powder to China,"​ the notice stated.

The Chinese General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) introduced the measure ban within days of Fonterra's August 2013 botulism alert.

Fonterra alerted eight customers on August 2 2013 that three batches of whey protein concentrate (WPC) potentially contaminated with Clostridium botulinum had entered the supply chain. 

Later that month, tests revealed the bacteria found in the WPC batches were Clostridium sporogenes, a non-toxic Clostridium strain.

With this in mind, it is unclear why the Chinese ban has remained in place.

False alarm

News of the false alarm came too late for the eight alerted Fonterra customers, who initiated product recalls across Asia and the Middle East in response.

Seven of the eight impacted firms accepted a “commercial solution” ​tabled by Fonterra. Danone was the only customer not to accept.

No-plans-to-sue-Fonterra-over-false-WPC-botulism-alarm-says-Nutricia_strict_xxl
Nutricia ANZ pulled 67,000 units of Karicare and Kariacare Gold infant formula from shelves in New Zealand.

Two Danone businesses, Nutricia Australia New Zealand (Nutricia ANZ) and Dumex, pulled infant formula from shelves in New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, and Singapore, without proof their products were tainted.

The French dairy claimed to have lost sales worth €370m (US$510m) as a result of the Fonterra alert.

In January 2014, Danone announced it had terminated its supply contract with Fonterra and was pursuing legal action against the New Zealand dairy cooperative.

Proceedings are on-going.

Related topics: Regulation & Safety

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