New Zealand dairy giant assures consumers in global markets that its branded consumer products don’t contain the affected whey protein concentrate.
Fonterra assured consumers in global markets including Australia, Asia, China, Latin America, New Zealand and the Middle East that none of its range of branded consumer products contains the affected whey protein concentrate (WPC80).
In addition to branded consumer products, Fonterra markets a range of commercial ingredients under its NZMP label. These ingredients are sold to other food companies that use them to manufacture their own consumer products.
The three specific batches of WPC80 produced in May 2012 at a single New Zealand manufacturing site, which were identified by Fonterra in its initial announcement this past weekend, are the only NZMP ingredients affected by this quality issue.
These batches were sold to eight of Fonterra’s customers –- with some receiving it as base product and others receiving finished product manufactured by Fonterra using the affected WPC80 as an ingredient. Of these customers, three are food companies, two are beverage companies and three are companies that manufacture animal stock feed.
The affected product contains a strain of Clostridium.
Fonterra is continuing to communicate with and provide support directly to these eight customers. At this stage, no product recalls have been announced. Any product recalls that may be necessary in the coming days will be announced and initiated by the respective customers, in conjunction with local regulators.
Fonterra will continue to provide regular updates and further information as it becomes available.
There have been no reports of any illness linked to consumption of the affected whey protein. Dairy products such as fresh milk, yoghurt, cheese, spreads and UHT milk products are not affected.
"Food safety is Fonterra’s number one priority," Fonterra Chief Executive Theo Spierings said. "We take matters of public health extremely seriously and we are doing everything we can to assist our customers in ensuring any product containing this ingredient is removed from the marketplace and that the public is made aware. We are acting quickly. Our focus is to get information out about potentially affected product as fast as possible so that it can be taken off supermarket shelves and, where it has already been purchased, can be returned.
"We are working closely with New Zealand’s regulatory authority – the Ministry for Primary Industries – to keep New Zealand and offshore regulators informed," said Spierings.
Fonterra initially identified a potential quality issue in March this year, when a product tested positive for Clostridium. There are hundreds of different strains of Clostridium, the majority of which are harmless.
Product samples were put through intensive testing over the following months. On July 31, 2013, tests indicated the potential presence of a strain of Clostridium (Clostridium Botulinum) in a sample, which can cause botulism.
The particular whey protein concentrate concerned (WPC80) is used by Fonterra’s customers in a range of products including infant formula, growing up milk powder and sports drinks, said Gary Romano, Managing Director, NZ Milk Products.
"For this reason, we immediately contacted our customers and the appropriate authorities, so that any potentially affected product could be removed from the marketplace," Romano said. "We are working with our customers and will provide more information and updates as they become available."
Any consumer product recalls that may need to take place will be initiated by the respective food companies.