Govt gathers DCD dossier for Chinese

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The government confirms it is responding to an official Chinese request for assurances over our dairy products.

What the Ministry for Primary Industries will not say is how it will respond.

Reports from China say the government's quality watchdog, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, or AQSIQ, has asked New Zealand authorities to present a detailed risk assessment report on dairy products.

This follows the revelation last week that traces of the agricultural chemical dicyandiamide (DCD) were found in some of dairy giant Fonterra's milk powder samples late last year.

Fonterra is the world's largest exporter of dairy products and China is its biggest market.

Prime Minister John Key says New Zealand's dairy products are safe and the New Zealand suppliers of DCD have voluntarily suspended sales as a precaution while inquiries are made.

Ministry for Primary Industries' deputy director of general standards Carol Barnao told NBR ONLINE government officials, including New Zealand’s Ambassador to China Carl Worker, met with AQSIQ on Monday.

"On request, the New Zealand officials will ensure AQSIQ has any information it needs, some of it very technical," she says in a statement.

The matter is obviously still a diplomatic hot potato, as the ministry clammed up – stating "this is a process still under way" – when asked if a new report is being penned or existing information is being compiled.

Very low levels of DCD residues were found in 10 samples of whole milk powder, skim milk powder and buttermilk powder from Fonterra's test of 100 samples last September.

The Ministry for Primary Industries says samples tested just two months later were free of DCD.  

Fonterra ceo Theo Spierings has reacted angrily to the Labour Party's suggestion of a cover-up while the Fonterra Shareholder Fund was launched late last year.

dwilliams@nbr.co.nz


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