China bans NZ milk powder imports Published: 2013-8-4 10:50:06

China has stopped the import of all New Zealand milk powder following the alert by Fonterra that an ingredient could be contaminated by a potentially deadly bacteria, New Zealand's trade minister said on Sunday.

New Zealand authorities have triggered a global recall of up to 1,000 tons of dairy products across seven countries after dairy giant Fonterra announced tests had turned up a type of bacteria that could cause botulism.

"The authorities in China, in my opinion absolutely appropriately, have stopped all imports of New Zealand milk powders from Australia and New Zealand," Trade Minister Tim Groser said on a TVNZ program.

New Zealand's Ministry of Primary Industries said Saturday that the tainted products include infant formula, sports drinks, protein drinks and other beverages. It said countries affected in addition to New Zealand include China, Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia.

Fonterra said its customers were urgently checking their supply chains.

Fonterra is the world's largest dairy exporter, with annual revenues of about US$16 billion.

Consumers in China and elsewhere are willing to pay a big premium for New Zealand infant formula because the country has a healthy reputation.

China's product quality watchdog Friday issued a statement urging importers of Fonterra dairy products to immediately start recalling the products.

In 2008, six babies in China died and another 300,000 were left ill by infant formula that was tainted with melamine, an industrial chemical added to watered-down milk.

Fonterra owned a minority stake in Sanlu, the now-bankrupt Chinese company at the center of the scandal.

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