New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra knew six weeks ago that milk formula produced by its Chinese joint venture partner Sanlu was contaminated, the company revealed today (15 September).

Sanlu milk powder containing the industrial chemical melamine has now been linked to the deaths of two infants, while hundreds have been hospitalised. Fonterra owns 43% of the company.

Fonterra said it called for a full recall of the product as soon as it heard of the contamination on 2 August. “We have continued to push for this all along. Consumer safety has always been our number one priority,” the company said in a statement yesterday.

Sanlu only ordered a recall of its milk formula last Thursday. Fonterra press officials said that the process and timing of the recall was handled entirely by the Chinese government and Sanlu.

Media reports from New Zealand have claimed that the Chinese government acted on the issue only after pressure from NZ Prime Minister Helen Clark. Fonterra confirmed that it discussed the matter with the New Zealand government in early September and that this had been “helpful” in dealing with the Chinese authorities.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

Though Fonterra has set up a farm in China to supply Sanlu directly with quality controlled milk, Sanlu still purchases much its raw milk from third parties. Its factory has now been shut down.