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Non complying product not a food safety issue

Non complying product not a food safety issue

Hokitika based dairy company Westland Milk Products announced today that a small amount of lactoferrin powder with elevated nitrate levels has been exported to China. The product has been traced and quarantined. Further, the nitrate levels did not comprise a food safety risk.

Chief Executive Rod Quin said Westland had reported to the Ministry of Primary Industries that two batches of lactoferrin (totalling 390kg) showed nitrate levels of 610 and 2198 parts per million respectively. The New Zealand maximum limit for nitrates is 150 parts per million. The product was initially not identified as non-compliant during Westland’s routine testing regime prior to export. All of the 390kg of non-complying lactoferrin was sent to China.

“We immediately initiated a process to find and quarantine all of the product and it has been put on hold,” Quin said.

Quin says nitrates are a naturally occurring substance found in such foods as leafy green vegetables. The issue is not the fact that it was present in the lactoferrin powder, but that the 390kg was over allowable levels.

“Food safety is not the issue in this instance because lactoferrin is used as a very minor ingredient in food products. This means that, even if the lactoferrin with elevated nitrates had been added to food, the retail products would still have nitrate levels significantly below allowed limits.”

Westland also put a hold on all of its lactoferrin in its own warehouse and commenced re-testing all individual batches. All other lactoferrin product tested to date has returned results well below the New Zealand nitrates limit. No other Westland products were affected.

“Based on these results and our investigations to date,” Mr Quin said, “Westland is of the view it is an isolated incident in the lactoferrin plant only, where traces of cleaning products (which contains nitrates) were not adequately flushed from the plant prior to a new run of product.

“Our investigation is underway to establish the root cause and we have implemented corrective actions,” Quin said, “so we can ensure this does not happen again.”

ENDS

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