Member log in

PM, Fonterra reject DCD milk health fears

Prime Minister John Key has swung in behind Fonterra in saying New Zealand dairy products are safe after some were found to contain traces of a nitrate-reducing chemical.

The reports have been widely circulated in the world media and have described the chemical, dicyandiamide (DCD), as “toxic.”

The Wall Street Journal, for one, has just carried a report balancing out its original story with denials from Fonterra that there is any health risk.

This morning, Mr Key has described these reports as misinformation and says the DCD traces have been found only at Fonterra's Clandeboye plant in South Canterbury.

He says he “was totally confident [the industry] was on top of it as it is not a health issue.”

A person would have to drink an amount equivalent to a swimming pool to be in any risk from the chemical, he adds.

Meanwhile, Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings has reiterated that the products of the world's largest dairy exporters are safe.

"We have strong science and we are providing assurances about the safety of our product," he said in an emailed statement to the Bloomberg new agency.

"Our testing has found only minute traces of DCD in samples of some of our products. Our products are safe. Customers can rest assured."

Earlier, the Ministry of Primary Industries said DCD was being used only by about 500 of the country's 12,000 dairy farmers.

The ministry announced sales of fertiliser containing DCD had been suspended, a move that has been criticised by local councils and environmentalists because it inhibits the leaching of nitrates into water.

"New Zealand's reputation is based on the high quality of food we produce," said Carol Barnao, the Ministry of Primary Industries’ deputy director of general standards.

"Because no standard exists, the detectable presence of DCD residues in milk could be unacceptable to consumers and our international markets, even in the small amounts found in recent testing."

In some countries there was a zero tolerance for residues when no standard existed.

The ministry is investigating the process to have a maximum allowable residue level set, if necessary, but this could take more than five years. It is also in a working group with the fertiliser and dairy industries to investigate future use of DCD.

Fonterra, Federated Farmers and Dairy NZ all welcomed the decision to stop use of DCD.

However, Local Government New Zealand expressed concern at the suspension of DCD, which is intended to help minimise the environmental footprint of farms by improving water quality and reducing greenhouse gas liabilities.
 

Comments and questions
9

Another example of our P.M.'s poor communication skills and lack of understanding of any point of view other than his own! It would take far less than a litre a day over an 80 year period to indeed consume the contents of a reasonable-sized swimming pool - it is not an unthinkable prospect...

It would be better for Mr '100% Pure' Key to keep out of this matter. Fonterra has considerable credibility, but Mr Key has sold his earlier on in the BBC interview where he declared that there was no issue with the cleanliness of NZ waters (the reason for DCD being present in the milk: there was in fact an issue with dairy effluents) . Responsible news media (e.g. The Guardian, New York Times) now view him as suspect on environmental issues.

The apparent testing regime adopted by Fonterra means that they actually cannot confirm what is or is not in their products until well after it has been sold and potentially consumed.

Most farmers who use DCD are in Canterbury, where the researchers who developed the use of DCD are based in.

I'd trust Kim Dotcom on this subject more than I would anything John Key has to say.

Dicyandiamide in your milk powder and meat or global warming blowing through your hair?

Envirowhacks get their scare-control power either way.

The DCD usage was to allow dairy farmers to overstock and over-fertilise their land, thus exceeding the soil's ability to absorb the additional nitrogen.
It is simply inappropriate land use.
The environment movement opposes that. And very few buy the CAGW hypothesis now that the science has been revised.

We're not informed which products contain DCD, whether farmer stockpiles are being used presently and/or recent past with irrigation, whether these products are or have been fed directly to dairy cows after being added into feeds such as palm kernel and grains to lift rumem activity. Whether dairy farms using these products are supplying niche companies and are therefore not having the dilution factor of big dairy factories. Still far too many questions and smoke and mirrors.

If traces of the chemical have been found in the milk, what level is still in the cow and does it dissipate eventually or will the levels get higher the more affected grass the cow eats, so what is it going to do to humans in a longer period of time?
The saddest part is that Fonterra chose to hide the results from September so it did not effect the share options offered late last year. If it is harmless as they say then how come manufacturers have suspended sales and Fonterra was not honest and open with their findings?