Russia "imposes ban on NZ dairy imports" - reports

Russia "imposes ban on NZ dairy imports" - reports

Russia's consumer protection authorities have said that they will "continue to monitor" the recall of a contaminated whey protein manufactured by Fonterra amid reports that a temporary import ban has been implemented.

The New Zealand dairy giant revealed on Friday (2 August) tests had detected three batches of WPC80 contain clostridium botulinum, a bacteria that can cause botulism. The batches were produced in May 2012 at a single New Zealand plant, Fonterra said.

The dairy cooperative revealed that the ingredient, which is used in a number of food products including infant formula, was shipped to eight customers in New Zealand and export markets such as China, Vietnam, Thailand and Saudi Arabia.

The contamination has prompted Chinese authorities to temporarily suspend imports of whey powder and dairy base powder produced by Fonterra. However, Beijing has stopped short of a blanket ban on New Zealand dairy products and Chinese authorities are allowing Fonterra to continue to import whole milk powder and skim milk powder.

Russian reports have suggested the country's regulators have implemented a temporary import suspension on all New Zealand dairy products.

However, according to a statement issued from Russia's Rospotrebnadzor, the Federal Service for Control in the Sphere of Protection Consumers' Rights and Well-Being of Humans, officials are "monitoring" the situation at present.

"The information available at this time... does not permit a comprehensive assessment of the situation," the watchdog said in a statement earlier today.

The Rospotrebnadzor said it will "continue to follow" the development of the recall to "to prevent diversion to the Russian consumers of dangerous products".

Officials at the Rospotrebnadzor were unavailable for comment at time of press. 

Russian authorities are notoriously quick to implement import bans linked to food safety issues. Last month, Russia banned imports from Ukrainian candy maker Roshen after the carcinogen benzopyrene, which can naturally occur in roasted coffee and cocoa beans, was said to have been found in a product sample. Previously, Russia has banned the import of fruit and vegetables from the EU and meat and poultry from the US over quality concerns.

New Zealand's Ministry of Primary Industries is investigating the unconfirmed reports Russia has implemented a temporary ban on dairy exports from the country.