Milk panic may be US political move - expert

RACHEL YOUNG AND FAIRFAX
Last updated 05:00 29/01/2013
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Fairfax NZ
GOOD CHOICE?: The world is asking whether New Zealand milk is safe to drink.

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International media reports questioning the safety of New Zealand's milk will not have any long-term impact on the country's "100 per cent pure" image, says a Canterbury marketing expert.

Several overseas media, including the Wall Street Journal, have asked how safe our milk is after it was revealed the chemical dicyandiamide (DCD) had been found in Kiwi dairy products.

University of Canterbury associate professor of marketing Ekant Veer said United States media may be using the find as a "political move" to encourage people to buy American-made products first.

He said the revelations would not have an impact on the dairy and tourism industries.

"It really takes a massive, massive story to make a huge impact. [And] as far as bouncing back, I don't think Fonterra is going to have a problem."

DCD is used to help reduce the amount of nitrate leaching off dairy farms into rivers and lakes.

While there is no apparent danger to human health by consuming DCD, the country's two main fertiliser suppliers voluntarily suspended sales of the chemical because it could affect trade.

Food regulators around the world are tightening testing in line with more demanding markets and in some countries there is no tolerance to chemical residues.

Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings said there was no danger in consuming New Zealand's milk.

"Let's keep it in perspective. Our testing has found only minute traces of DCD in samples of some of our products. It is important to remember that the minute traces detected were around 100 times lower than acceptable levels under European food safety limits."

He was concerned, however, about the perception of milk based on false information.

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