Infant formula tested over tampering fears 'negative for 1080': NZ Police

By Mark ASTLEY contact

- Last updated on GMT

Infant formula tested over tampering fears 'negative for 1080': NZ Police

Related tags: New zealand, Milk

Samples of infant formula feared to have been tampered with have tested negative for pest control poison, sodium monofluoroacetate (1080), says New Zealand Police.

Malcolm Burgess, assistant commissioner, New Zealand Police, today confirmed that tins of infant formula collected and tested by Operation Concord - the team investigating the recent 1080 threat - "all tested negative"​ for the pest control poison.

"The infant formula in those tins was safe for infants to consume,"​ said Burgess.

"The test results appear to confirm the Police view that issues highlighted by the public about the tins arose from normal manufacturing or handling issues," ​Burgess added.

New Zealand Police announced on March 10 it was investigating a threat - made in letters to Fonterra and Federated Farmers in November 2014 - to contaminate infant formula with 1080. 

It revealed yesterday that Operation Concord had received "a number of calls from members of the public"​ concerned about damage, including "possible pinpricks"​, to infant formula packaging.

"Did the right thing"

Despite the all clear, New Zealand Police thanked the public for its "continued vigilance when buying infant and other formula."

"The parents involved here did the right thing," ​said Burgess.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), which has been working with New Zealand Police since the threat emerged in November 2014, said those that flagged up the packaging damage should be "commended for immediately reporting this to Police."

In a statement published on the New Zealand Government Food Protection website - set up in response to the 1080 criminal blackmail threat - Scott Gallacher, deputy director general, MPI, urged the public to keep it up.

"We continue to be confident that New Zealand infant and other formula is just as safe today as it was before this threat was made," ​said Gallacher.

"People should keep using it as they always have, and to continue to be vigilant when buying infant and other formula by checking all product for tampering," ​he said.

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The threat is an "apparent protest" over New Zealand's use of 1080, which is applied aerially to kill pests.

The letters sent to Fonterra and Federated Farmers in November 2014 contained a threat to contaminate formula products with 1080 unless New Zealand ended its use of the pest control poison by the end of the March. 

Samples of milk powder sent with the letters tested positive for 1080.

Biodegradable 1080 is the salt form of fluoroacetate, a toxin found in several plants.

Pellets of 1080 are applied aerially in New Zealand to kill pests such as possums, which have been blamed for the spread of bovine tuberculosis.

Related topics: Regulation & Safety, Nutritionals, Fonterra

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