Baby Formula Imports To China Could Have Deadly Bacteria Strain

New Zealand-based Fonterra says tests show the potential presence of a strain of Clostridium Botulinum that could be in infant formula bound for China.

The presence was found in a sample last week. That bacteria strain can can cause botulism, a deadly malady.

Fonterra says there have been no reports of any illness linked to consumption of the affected whey protein. Dairy products such as fresh milk, yogurt, cheese, spreads and UHT milk products are not affected. But baby formula shipped to other countries like China is affected.

The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine in China has reportedly also told importers to recall any products in mainland China that might contain this deadly ingredient.

New Zealand milk products have usually been a benchmark for high quality in China. Chinese brands like Bright Dairy have been cashing in on this by building farms and factories in New Zealand to export products back to China. Bright Dairy also had an initial public offering in New Zealand this year.

And Fonterra too has seen the Chinese market as very important. The company recently invested in the opening of more manufacturing capacity in China to help build its brand and distribution in the country.

In 2009, China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said 5.2 tons of whey protein powder imported by the China-based Wahaha Healthcare Food Company from New Zealand contained enterobacter sakazakii, a bacterium that can trigger colonitis, blood poisoning, and meningitis.

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