Dairy products from Westland Milk sent to China have been
quarantined after concerns were raised about nitrate levels.
Hokitika-based dairy company Westland Milk Products said a
small amount of lactoferrin powder with elevated nitrate
levels had been exported to China.
The product - which is a protein - had been traced and
quarantined, Westland said.
The nitrate levels did not comprise a food safety risk, it
said in a statement.
Chief executive Rod Quin said Westland had reported to the
Ministry for Primary Industries that two batches of
lactoferrin (totalling 390kg) showed nitrate levels of 610
and 2198 parts per million respectively.
Quin said that, based on investigations to date, it appeared
to be an isolated incident in the lactoferrin plant only
where traces of cleaning products - which contain nitrates -
were not adequately flushed from the plant prior to a new run
The New Zealand maximum limit for nitrates is 150 parts per
The announcement from Westland follows news early this month
that China had temporarily suspended imports of whey powder
from Fonterra after three batches were found to contain
Clostridium, which is part of a family of organisms which can
bacteria, some of which are linked to food poisoning.
Westland - the New Zealand's second biggest dairy cooperative
after Fonterra - said the product was initially not
identified as non-compliant during Westland's routine testing
regime prior to export. All of the 390kg of non-complying
lactoferrin was sent to China.
"We immediately initiated a process to find and quarantine
all of the product and it has been put on hold," Quin said in
Quin said nitrates are a naturally occurring substance found
in such foods as leafy green vegetables. The issue is not the
fact that it was present in the lactoferrin powder, but that
the 390kg was over allowable levels.
He said food safety was not the issue because lactoferrin is
used as a very minor ingredient in food products. "This means
that, even if the lactoferrin with elevated nitrates had been
added to food, the retail products would still have nitrate
levels significantly below allowed limits,' he said.
Westland also put a hold on all of its lactoferrin in its own
warehouse and commenced re-testing all individual batches.
All other lactoferrin product tested to date has returned
results well below the New Zealand nitrates limit. No other
Westland products were affected.
- Jamie Gray, APNZ business reporter