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NZ promises greater scrutiny of dairy industry

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-08-20 13:35

WELLINGTON -- New Zealand food safety officials announced Tuesday that they will step up their regulatory oversight of the dairy industry after two international alerts involving New Zealand products this month.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) was exploring interim measures to strengthen consumer assurances around the country's dairy production, as it and the government launch inquiries into the cause and response to the botulism scare involving whey protein concentrate from Fonterra.

"Our dairy sector trades on New Zealand's reputation, and that reputation is built on the strong assurances our regulatory system provides, and the quality of New Zealand's products," MPI acting director-general Scott Gallacher said in a statement.

The interim measures included stepping up the regulatory presence in manufacturing premises, improving and expanding testing across dairy production, and running simulations to test the industry's ability to track product through their supply chains.

The MPI would also step up review of the risk management plans that dairy producers drew up for their manufacturing plants.

"In any food system, there are issues that arise from time to time. New Zealand's food system is no different. Our testing regimes are thorough and robust when compared with the world's leading dairy producing nations. And when issues do arise, we deal with them promptly and openly with our trading partners," said Gallacher.

"Nevertheless, there is always room for improvement. I am confident these interim measures will help to reinforce consumer trust and confidence in our dairy products."

New Zealand trade officials are still trying to deal with the international fallout over the Fonterra contamination, which occurred in May last year, but was revealed early this month after some of the product had already been exported.

On Monday, the MPI revealed that lactoferrin produced by Westland Milk Products had been exported to China despite having nitrate levels that exceeded the New Zealand standard.

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