Dairy giant apologizes for contamination scare in China

Beijing, Aug 6 (IANS/EFE) New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra apologized to its Chinese customers after potentially harmful bacteria were detected in some of the company's products.

The CEO of the world's top exporter of dairy products offered the apology at a press conference in Beijing.

"We really regret the distress and anxiety which this issue could have caused," Theo Spiergings said. "Parents have the right to know that infant nutrition and other dairy products are harmless and safe."

Fonterra's CEO denied that the firm tried to hide the contamination of its products after New Zealand Prime Minister John Key reproached the company for its delay in alerting the public about the possible presence of bacteria.

Fonterra said it had sold to eight clients - whose names have not been revealed - a concentrate of the whey protein suspected of being contaminated by dirty pipes in one of its plants.

This ingredient, which is used to make baby foods and sports drinks, has been exported to Australia, China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Saudi Arabia.

Fonterra said Monday on its website in China that it would do everything possible to warn consumers and expressed hope of being able to resolve the problem quickly.

Also on the Internet the company said that the Chinese government has not blocked the importation of all its products, only of the ones that are potentially harmful and even those just temporarily.

China's food safety agency published Sunday a list of four Chinese companies that have begun withdrawing food products from the market, from powdered milk to energy drinks, and that are also stopping imports.

--IANS/EFE

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