|New Zealand's Westland Milk admits exporting nitrate contaminated products to China
Another New Zealand diary company is in the spotlight today after revelations that a protein product exported to China has been contaminated with high levels of nitrate.
Westland Milk Products, which makes Westpro milk powder, has admitted that two batches adding up to 390 kilos of lactoferrin had contained nitrate levels of 610 and 2,198 parts per million respectively, media reports said today.
New Zealand's maximum limit for nitrates is 150 parts per million.
Westland Milk chief executive Rod Quin said they have informed the Ministry for Primary Industries, the New Zealand Herald reported today.
The protein had been traced and quarantined, Westland said.
It said in a statement, the nitrate levels were not a food safety risk.
Westland says on its website that "founding director Mark Wallace - dubbed Mr Westland for his services to the community - was an honest, direct and fair man who believed strongly in the mutual value of the cooperative system.''
It says the company leads the way "in innovation and product development while maintaining the highest standards of product quality and service.''
Quality is ensured by "modern and flexible manufacturing facilities'' that are "fully certified to internationally recognized standards for food safety. Under the International Standards Organisation (ISO) Food Management System ISO 22000, Westland subscribes to a set of rules and expectations to ensure our products and processes are documented, measured, reviewed and continually improved against an internationally audited standard.''
According to CEO Quin, it appeared to be an isolated incident in the lactoferrin plant only where traces of cleaning products -- which contain nitrates -- were not adequately flushed from the plant before a new run of product.
MPI said it had revoked export certificates for four consignments of lactoferrin made by Westland.
One batch was exported directly to China as an ingredient for other dairy products by Westland, and the second batch was supplied to Tatua Co-operative Dairy Co, and also exported to China, MPI said.
MPI acting director-general Scott Gallacher told the paper "any food safety risk to Chinese consumers is negligible because the quantities of lactoferrin used in consumer products was very small, meaning the nitrate levels in those products would easily be within acceptable levels.''