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Food watchdog clamps down on milk powder manufacturers

09 August 2013

In a clamp down on milk powder producers, China says it will ‘severely’ punish any companies found to have quality or safety problems.

The announcement was made by the China Food and Drug Administration, following a contamination scare at the world’s biggest dairy exporter, New Zealand based Fonterra.

"A lack of responsibility, unclear policies and lax supervision led to recent safety issues over infant milk formula, and it is necessary to improve the quality and safety of milk powder to regain consumer confidence," the agency said in a statement.

Public trust was damaged by a 2008 scandal in China in which six infants died and thousands became ill after drinking milk tainted with the toxic industrial compound melamine.

Fonterra has recalled some batches of milk formula in China and elsewhere after the New Zealand co-operative said it had discovered whey protein products that contained a harmful bacteria.

The company's chief executive, Theo Spierings, flew to China at the weekend to apologise for the scare.

To help its monitoring, the Food and Drug Administration would set up a team of specialists to work with local supervisory bodies to make sure they met their responsibilities and eliminated risks at the earliest stages, the statement said. It added that a key task was to promote a better understanding of the need for quality and safety in milk powder production.

Milk powder producers have come under scrutiny in China in recent weeks for pricing as well as health issues. On Wednesday, China fined six milk powder producers a total of £70million for price fixing and anti-competitive behaviour. Fonterra was among those penalised, with a fine of £420,399, the least of the six.


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