Fonterra tests milk for sugar

BY CHRIS GARDNER
Last updated 09:36 19/05/2009

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Fonterra is testing milk produced in Sri Lanka for its Colombon factories for added sugar.

"There are a few farmers who might add sugar to get their fat levels up, '' Dilhan Jayawardena, operations director for Fonterra Brands Lanka, explains.

Fonterra conducts 17 tests, including one for melamine, on milk taken to nine collection centres in the southeast part of the country and produced by 3500 Sri Lankan farmers whose average herd is two or three cows and daily production is three to six litres.

Fonterra says it tests every delivery of milk for microbial loading (natural bacteria) including aerobic plate count and coliforms; organoleptic (taste and smell) quality, composition, traces of antibiotics and known potential adulterants including peroxide, urea, salt, lime and melamine among others.

This level of testing is consistent with New Zealand and international regulatory standards.

Brendhan Greaney, general manager of Fonterra Brands (Singapore) operations, says it is not cost-effective to test the milk at the farm.

Says Dihan: ''There is a lot of competition.

''If Fonterra is paying 35 rupees per litre some other operator will come in and offer 40 rupees.
''We have a long-term relationship with 95 per cent of them and we pay in cash.

''Our average farmer does not believe in artificial insemination so we run workshops to educate them.
''For the last year we have increased collection by at least 8000 to 9000 litres.''

Milkpowder packed in New Zealand destined for Sri Lanka is shipped, via either Singapore or Malaysia, and takes between 24 and 27 days to arrive at the Fonterra plant on the outskirts of Colombo.

The powder plant is capable of repacking 135 metric tonnes of milkpowder into 21 different products per day.

A second plant, which processes milk collected locally, is capable of handling 645,516 litres of milk per day.

The new plant, Fonterra's third in Colombo which went into operation in February a month ahead of schedule, takes Fonterra's yoghurt capacity from 6.3 million pots per month to 10.62 million.

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- Waikato Times

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