World / Asia-Pacific

Police rule out tampering on tested NZ infant formula tins

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-03-19 17:31

WELLINGTON - Police investigating a threat to poison New Zealand infant formula on Thursday ruled out contamination of tins of product that had reportedly been tampered with.

Police had said Wednesday that they had received a number of calls from members of the public concerned with possible infant formula product tampering, such as possible pinpricks in packaging lids, and a number of tins had been forensically tested.

Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess issued a statement Thursday, saying all the tested tins had tested negative for the pesticide 1080, which was the subject of the threat.

"The infant formula in those tins was safe for infants to consume," Burgess said.

"The test results appear to confirm the police view that issues highlighted by the public about the tins arose from normal manufacturing or handling issues."

Earlier Thursday, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), the agency responsible for food safety, assured buyers of New Zealand infant formula at home and abroad that the product was safe.

"We continue to be confident that New Zealand infant and other formula is just as safe today as it was before this threat was made," MPI deputy director-general Scott Gallacher said in a statement.

"We would like to reassure New Zealand parents and caregivers that everything is being done to ensure infant formula bought from stores is safe and secure," he said.

"International consumers can also be assured these measures apply to infant formula exported from New Zealand."

Police revealed last week that letters sent to the Federated Farmers industry group and the Fonterra dairy cooperative in November last year were accompanied by small packages of milk powder that subsequently tested positive for the presence of a concentrated form of 1080.

The letters threatened to contaminate infant and other formula with 1080 unless New Zealand stopped using 1080 for pest control by the end of March 2015.

Sodium monofluoroacetate, known as 1080, is a poison used to protect New Zealand's native flora and fauna against introduced pests such as possums and ferrets.

Its use has been controversial over the years with opponents saying it poisons non-target animals and contaminates the environment.

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