Ban on 2 NZ baby milk products

KUALA LUMPUR - The Health Ministry has imposed an import ban on two dairy products from New Zealand after the items were suspected of being contaminated with potentially dangerous bacteria.

The two banned baby milk products -- Nutricia Karicare Stage 1 Infant Formula, and Nutricia Karicare Stage Follow-on Formula -- are manufactured by New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra Limited.

The ban on the products, said the ministry, would only be lifted once the New Zealand authorities confirm that the products were not contaminated with the "Clostridium botulinum" bacteria.

The two items however, are not the only ones banned by the ministry. The ban, effective Aug 5, also includes all premixed infant formula and follow-on formula manufactured by Fonterra which could contain whey protein concentrate (WPC80).

This followed a recent announcement by Fonterra that a dirty pipe at its plant in Hautapu, Waikato, could have led to the contamination of three batches of WPC80 with bacteria that could cause botulism.

Botulism, a serious illness which causes paralysis of muscles, is acknowledged as the most dangerous form of food poisoning and is potentially lethal.

It was reported that the three batches of contaminated WPC80 had been turned into 900 tonnes of varied food products sold by eight companies in seven countries.

Meanwhile, the ministry, in a statement said it was taking precautionary measures to ensure the safety of the products which are already in the market.

The ministry said it would instruct the companies to recall their dairy products if they were found to be manufactured using WPC80 exported by Fonterra to Malaysia.

Danon Dumex, one of the dairy companies supplied with WPC80 from Fonterra, announced on Monday that it had recalled some batches of its products.

Consumers were also urged not to use dairy products made by Fonterra and Danone Dumex for the time being.

Fonterra Malaysia had in a statement declared that "none of our consumer branded products -- Anlene, Anmum, Anchor/Fernleaf - were affected and all are safe for consumption".