Dairy Giant Warns of Botulism Threat

New Zealand's Fonterra says 7 countries affected; so far, US is in clear
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 3, 2013 5:50 AM CDT
Dairy Giant Warns of Botulism Threat
In this 2004 photo, Fonterra's Hautapu dairy factory is seen in the Waikato, New Zealand.   (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Greg Bowker)

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. (More New Zealand stories.)

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