China has halted imports of all milk powder from New Zealand and Australia, New Zealand’s trade minister said on Sunday, after bacteria that can cause botulism found in some dairy products raised food safety concerns that threatened its $9.4 billion annual dairy trade.
Global dairy giant Fonterra identified eight companies to which it had sold contaminated New Zealand-made whey protein concentrate, exported to China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Saudi Arabia and used in products including infant milk powder.
Nearly 90 percent of China’s $1.9 billion in milk powder imports last year originated in New Zealand and economists said a prolonged ban could produce a shortage of dairy products in China, including foreign-branded infant formula.
Australia was caught up in the ban after some of the contaminated whey protein concentrate was exported there before being sent on to China and elsewhere.
“The authorities in China, in my opinion absolutely appropriately, have stopped all imports of New Zealand milk powders from Australia and New Zealand,” New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser told Television New Zealand.
While there was no official word of a ban from Chinese authorities, China’s consumer watchdog named four companies that had imported potentially contaminated products from Fonterra. n a statement on its website, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine identified the companies as Dumex Baby Food Co., Ltd, a subsidiary of France’s Danone, two subsidiaries of Wahaha Group, one of the largest beverage manufacturers in China, and the state-owned Shanghai Sugar, Tobacco and Alcohol company.
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