New Zealand’s government yesterday assured consumers that all New Zealand dairy products are safe after reports that the dairy products may be tainted with a potentially hazardous substance.
A statement released by the New Zealand representative office in Taiwan yesterday quoted New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries Director-General Wayne McNee as saying that there had been some confusion about the suspension of a pasture treatment, dicyandiamide (DCD), in New Zealand and what this meant for the safety of New Zealand milk products.
“Use of DCD was suspended by its manufacturers because very small traces of residue were unexpectedly detected in New Zealand milk. DCD residues have only been found in some milk powder products and not in other dairy products such as butter and cheese,” the New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office’s statement said.
“The detection of these low levels of DCD residues poses no risk to food safety. DCD itself is not poisonous,” the statement quoted McNee as saying.
“DCD is not used directly in or on food in New Zealand and never has been. It is a product used on pastures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and leaching of nitrogen into waterways,” he added.
“There is no need for consumers in Taiwan to be concerned about the safety and quality of New Zealand dairy products,” a separate statement released by the office on Friday said, adding that at present there is no international standard for DCD residue in food.
“This is because DCD is not considered to have any impact on food safety,” it said.
On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that low levels of DCD had been found in New Zealand milk and that two major New Zealand fertilizer companies — Ravensdown Ltd and Ballance Agri-Nutrients Ltd — had suspended sales of DCD in response.
The report caused concern with the Department of Health (DOH).
Tsai Shu-chen (蔡淑貞), section chief at the DOH’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA), yesterday said the authorities were checking shipments of baby milk formula from New Zealand.
The FDA decided to go ahead with the checks considering the volume of milk products Taiwan imports from New Zealand and because infants are the main consumers of those products, she added.
Lin Chieh-liang (林杰樑), a toxicologist at Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, said on Friday that DCD is not a carcinogen and that occasional consumption is not likely to affect human health, but long-term consumption could cause uremia, a toxic condition resulting from kidney disease.
New Zealand accounted for 78.9 percent of Taiwan’s adult powdered milk imports and 21.7 percent of its baby milk formula imports last year.
From 2011 to the end of last year, dairy imports (powdered milk, infant milk powder and cream cheese) from New Zealand accounted for 43.07 percent of all imported dairy products in Taiwan, government data showed.