Aug 06, 2013 05:20 PM

Fifth Importer Recalls Dairy Products over Contamination Scare


(Beijing) – A fifth company is embroiled in a scare over tainted dairy products from New Zealand's Fonterra Cooperative Group.
Abbott Laboratories, a U.S. company, said it will recall two batches of baby formula products due to concern they could be tainted with a bacteria that can cause botulism. The latter is an illness whose symptoms include blurred vision, muscle weakness and paralysis. It can be fatal.
Fonterra's chief executive, Theo Spierings, arrived in Beijing on August 5 and apologized for the contamination scare.
"We really regret the distress and anxiety which this issue could have caused," he said. "We totally understand there is concern by parents and other consumers around the world. Parents have the right to know that infant nutrition and other dairy products are harmless and safe."
Spierings said the recall in China will be done in two days.
Demand for imported dairy products has risen in the country after domestic supplies were found to be tainted with the industrial chemical melamine in 2008. The chemical was blamed for the deaths of six infants and for making some 300,000 ill.
On August 4, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said Hangzhou Wahaha Health Food Co., Hangzhou Wahaha Import & Export Co., Shanghai Tangjiu Group and Shanghai-based Dumex Baby Food Co. were importing tainted whey protein concentrate. The concentrate was used to make baby formula and beverages. The watchdog has ordered a recall of all involved products.
Abbott said on August 5 that the company's products did not use any of the concentrate from Fonterra, but it was possible products were tainted during packaging. A Fonterra facility suspected of being contaminated by the bacteria handled Abbot's products.
A packaging line that handled tainted products and two batches of Abbott baby formula was not cleaned, the company said. The two batches involved 7,181 boxes of baby formula, and 112 boxes were sold, Abbott said.
Fonterra said on August 2 it found bacteria that can cause botulism in some of its whey protein concentrate products, affecting eight of its wholesale customers in China, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia.
China has banned imports of such products from New Zealand.
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