The discovery of Chinese babies falling ill with kidney
stones consumed milkpowder sold by Fonterra-controlled Sanlu
Group is starting to have repercussions outside China.
The United States Food and Drug Administration has warned
consumers to avoid infant formula from China, and New Zealand
food safety officials are checking dairy products sent from
China, even though no infant formula is imported.
China's Health Ministry today ordered a nationwide probe of
milkpowder linked to the rash of kidney stones in infants,
and one death.
"Those responsible will face serious punishment," said a
ministry spokesman, Mao Qunan, quoted by the official Xinhua
In seven provinces, hundreds of babies have been reported ill
with kidney stones, and most of those babies are said to have
been drinking Sanlu milkpowder.
Reports quoted doctors as saying many of the patients
suffered from rare acute renal shutdown, an enlarged kidney
Sanlu has said some of its milkpowder was contaminated with
melamine, a chemical used in plastics, which has previously
been illegally used to boost perceived protein levels in
standard tests for foods.
Asked yesterday what concern it had that its staff or workers
for Sanlu might be prosecuted for any perceived role in the
latest food safety scandal, Fonterra said: "It is not helpful
to engage in speculation at this time".
"The appropriate authorities need to get to the bottom of
this issue first."
Fonterra, which theoretically has control of Sanlu through
its 43 percent shareholding, said today it was advised the
company had a "quality issue in its products as a result of
receiving defective milk in China".
The company "has advised us that they have recalled product
in China and have put new milk quality testing procedures in
"We are pushing hard to make sure that Sanlu is working
closely with the Chinese Government to ensure that everything
that can be done, is being done."
Sanlu, based in Shijiazhuang, a city southwest of Beijing, is
China's biggest producer of milkpowder - about 6800 tonnes a
day or equivalent to 18 percent of the market, according to
Xinhua and the official China Daily newspaper reported
Sanlu had recalled 700 tonnes of the product.
Fonterra said it understands the contaminated product is only
sold in China, though Sanlu exports a small amount to Taiwan.
Today, the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA)
announced it is testing infant formula sold here after the
scare, and is looking at dairy produce imported from China.
NZFSA deputy chief executive Sandra Daly told NZPA customs
records showed no New Zealand infant formula was imported
from China, but it was going ahead anyway with testing the
infant formula sold here.
"The first results are expected to be available early next
week and will be published on the NZFSA website," she said.
New Zealand imports small amounts of conventional dairy
products such as milk, milkpowder and cheese from China, Ms
Any products identified as containing Chinese dairy product
are being tested.
China's Health Ministry has warned mothers against feeding
children Sanlu brand milkpowder, though it has not blocked
Fonterra has predicted that eventually China will account for
10 percent of its global dairy market.
It paid $NZ150 million - 864 million renminbi - for its stake
in the Shijiazhuang Sanlu Group dairy company in December