NZ Ministry Says Fonterra Whey Protein Couldn’t Cause Botulism

Fonterra Cooperative Group Ltd., the world’s largest dairy exporter, didn’t produce whey protein with a bacterial contamination that could have caused botulism, according to New Zealand’s government.

“The bacteria found in whey protein concentrate manufactured by Fonterra is not clostridium botulinum,” Scott Gallacher, acting director general of the Ministry of Primary Industries, said today on a conference call. “It is therefore not capable of producing botulism-causing toxins.”

China, Fonterra’s largest milk powder customer, banned some products this month after discovery of batches of whey protein with a contamination that could cause botulism. The ministry said in a statement at it undertook tests, using local and overseas laboratories, on the whey protein after Fonterra advised it Aug. 2 that there was a potential contamination of a 38 metric ton batch made at a North Island plant.

The organism identified in the whey protein was clostridium sporogenes, which doesn’t lead to any known food safety issue, Gallacher said. Certain strains may be associated with food spoilage, he said.

Fonterra earlier called on the ministry to release the test results citing speculation on the negative result. Trading in Fonterra Shareholder’s Fund units was halted on the stock exchange.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tracy Withers in Wellington at twithers@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Matthew Brockett at mbrockett1@bloomberg.net

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