No danger in our milk - Fonterra

RACHEL YOUNG
Last updated 12:54 28/01/2013

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There is no danger in consuming New Zealand's milk, says Fonterra.

A finding in September said traces of Dicyandiamide (DCD) had appeared in milk tested by Fonterra, specifically in whole, skim milk, and buttermilk powder products.

DCD is used to help reduce dairying's impact on water by reducing the amount of nitrate leaching off farms into rivers and lakes.

Last week, Ministry for Primary Industries standards deputy director general Carol Barnao said while DCD has not been found to have an effect on food safety, the presence of residues in milk could be unacceptable to consumers and international markets, even in small amounts found in testing.

New Zealand's two main fertiliser suppliers have voluntarily suspended sales and use of DCD treatment on farm land until further notice. 

Today, Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited chief executive Theo Spierings has reassured global customers that New Zealand dairy products are safe to consume.

''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.'' 

Federated Farmers' food safety spokesman William Rolleston said New Zealand's continual testing for impurities and open disclosure was why the country's primary exports were of the highest quality.

''Residues of DCD nitrification inhibitors were detected but the levels recorded were in the order of parts per million.  

These residues only came to light because New Zealand continually tests for and refines testing for impurities.

''I doubt many countries test to the level we do but once DCD was verified our consumers and trading partners were notified.  

He said it was unlikely any DCD would be detected in products now coming off the production line. However, he stressed DCDs were considered safe.  

''We are here now because there is no internationally agreed acceptable level for DCD residues meaning the default becomes the level of detection.''  

DCD-based nitrification inhibitors have been applied on about 500 out of 12,000 dairy farms in New Zealand.

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- The Press

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