August 29, 2013
The New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) has advised the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) that a dairy food ingredient exported to Australia for domestic and export use did not contain Clostridium botulinum, as had been feared, and posed no risk to human health.
The potentially contaminated dairy ingredient, a whey protein concentrate, had been used in a range of dairy products in Australia, such as infant formula and sports drinks.
The safety of the Australian food supply is of the utmost importance to the Australian Government. All food offered for sale, whether imported or produced domestically, must meet Australia’s stringent, legislated food safety requirements.
Preliminary testing by the New Zealand manufacturer, Fonterra, indicated the contamination of the dairy ingredient involved Clostridium botulinum spores.
New Zealand’s MPI subsequently provided samples to international reference laboratories that are world authorities on Clostridium testing.
The international reference laboratories have found the Clostridium was another type of clostridial bacteria, Clostridium Sporogenes, which is commonly found in food and does not present a food safety risk, including to infants.
The Australian Government took a similarly responsible and cautious approach to the initial test results provided by New Zealand. This was to ensure any potential risks associated with Australian dairy products, in Australia or overseas, were appropriately managed.
DAFF worked with other authorities and was able to trace potentially affected products and assess risks. Information was provided to trading partners that may have received the potentially affected products.
The Australian Government takes its role as the regulator of a safe food supply very seriously.