Safety measures for baby formula in Malaysia

PETALING JAYA - The Health Ministry has immediately implemented the "hold, test and release" inspection on all Nutricia Karicare follow-on formula products for children from six months old if they are imported from New Zealand as a precautionary measure.

This is following the latest information obtained from New Zealand's Primary Industries Ministry that only that product is suspected to contain the whey protein concentrate (WPC). The product is suspected to be contaminated by a bacteria that could lead to botulism.

In a statement yesterday, the ministry was verifying of whether the product is in the Malaysian market.

"As a precautionary measure, parents and guardians who use the product are advised to not use it and to replace it with another brand for the time being," said Noraini Othman, the ministry's Food Quality and Safety Division senior director in the statement.

The ministry has taken into account the alert from the International Food Safety Authorities Network under the World Health Organisation about the WPC manufactured by Fronterra from New Zealand that is suspected to be contaminated.

The WPC is used as an ingredient in baby formula, growing-up milk powder and sports drinks.

There has been no food safety incidents reported so far from the importing countries.

The ministry, she added was also working closely with the New Zealand High Commission here and will issue updates on the latest developments.

"We hope the public need not worry because food safety monitoring and enforcement is always carried out to ensure the safety of consumers are always guaranteed," she said.

If consumers are wary of the safety status of a food product, they can inform the ministry at the nearest district health office or state health department, or go to the website, http://fsq.moh.gov.my.

Fonterra Malaysia, in a statement, confirmed that all its consumer products in the country were not affected by the bacteria.

These include its brands Anmum, Anlene and Anchor or Fernleaf.

"All our consumer branded products in Malaysia are safe for consumption," said the company's managing director David Ross.

It also assured consumers in global markets, including Australia, Asia, China, Latin America, New Zealand and the Middle East, that none of its products contained the contaminated whey protein concentrate (WPC80).

Botulism is a rare illness that can cause paralysis in humans and is due to consuming food contaminated with the toxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum.

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