NZ's Fonterra finds botulism-causing bacteria in milk ingredient
WELLINGTON, Aug 3 (Reuters) - New Zealand's Fonterra, the world's largest dairy exporter, on Saturday said it had found that an ingredient in some of its dairy products contains a strain of the Clostridium, a bacteria which can cause botulism, which may result in a recall.
Fonterra said that it had advised eight of its customers of a quality issue involving three batches of product manufactured in New Zealand containing questionable whey protein concentrate, which can be used in sports drinks and milk formula powder. It advised them to initiate a product recall if necessary.
It did not identify the customers affected. Fonterra is a big supplier of wholesale milk powder to Chinese dairy firms and is known to supply multinational food and beverage companies.
Fonterra said there had been no reports of any illness linked to the affected whey protein, and that fresh milk, yoghurt, cheese, spreads and UHT milk products were not affected.
"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," Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings said in a statement.
"We are working closely with New Zealand's regulatory authority - the Ministry for Primary Industries - to keep New Zealand and offshore regulators informed."
Fonterra is preparing to enter China's booming branded infant formula market later this year. It processes the vast majority of milk produced in New Zealand, whose dairy sector generates more than 7 percent of the country's GDP.
(Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Bernard Orr)