New Zealand authorities have triggered a global recall of up to 1,000 tons of dairy products across seven countries after dairy giant Fonterra announced tests had turned up a type of bacteria that could cause botulism. The tainted products include infant formula, sports drinks, protein drinks, and other beverages. It said countries affected beside New Zealand were China, Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Saudi Arabia. Fonterra, the world's fourth-largest dairy company, said its customers were urgently checking their supply chains.
Consumers in China and elsewhere are willing to pay a big premium for New Zealand infant formula because the country has a clean and healthy reputation. Chinese consumers have a special interest after tainted local milk formula killed six babies in 2008. A company official said the problem was caused by unsterilized pipes at one of its factories. The CDC describes botulism as a rare but sometimes fatal paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin.