Russia lifts 2013 botulism scare ban on imports from Fonterra plants

By Mark ASTLEY contact

- Last updated on GMT

Russia placed restrictions on imports from 61 Fonterra plants in the midst of the 2013 WPC botulism scare
Russia placed restrictions on imports from 61 Fonterra plants in the midst of the 2013 WPC botulism scare

Related tags: Milk

Russia has partially lifted restrictions on Fonterra dairy imports implemented in the midst of the 2013 whey protein concentrate (WPC) botulism scare.

Earlier this week, the Russian Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor) announced it had removed temporary restrictions on the import of dairy products from a number of Fonterra plants in New Zealand. 

On August 17, following an analysis of samples provided by New Zealand authorities, Rosselkhoznadzor decided to "allow the delivery of dairy ingredients"​ produced at 29 Fonterra plants in the country.

"The list of ingredients includes butter, whey protein concentrate and milk protein concentrate, which are practical and in high demand, but not produced in Russia,"​ a translated Rosselkhoznadzor statement said. 

On August 12 2013, Russia slapped a temporary ban on the import of dairy products produced at 61 previously accredited Fonterra plants. 

Days earlier, on August 2, Fonterra warned eight customers, including French dairy Danone, that three batches of WPC potentially contaminated with botulism-causing Clostridium botulinum had entered the supply chain.

In an immediate response to the ban, Fonterra said none of the "potentially affected"​ WPC had been shipped to Russia.

It added that it was "working closely" ​with authorities in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan "to reassure them of the safety of its products."

Later tests, carried out independently in New Zealand and the US, confirmed that the bacterium found in the batches were not Clostridium botulinum, but Clostridium sporogenes – a non-toxic Clostridium strain.

According to reports, the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is now working to have any remaining Russian import restrictions lifted.

"We're continuing to work with the Russian authorities to lift the temporary restrictions on the remaining products produced at those 29 plants, and to ensure all other New Zealand plants wishing to export dairy products to Russia are able to do so,"​ an MPI spokesperson told Stuff.co.nz.

Related topics: Manufacturers, Nutritionals, Fonterra

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