New Zealand milk formula scares mums

Officers from the Health Ministry's Department of Food Safety examine tins of Similac Gainplus EyeQ milk formula at a store on Ha Noi's Hang Buom Street. — VNA/VNS Photo Duong Ngoc

Officers from the Health Ministry's Department of Food Safety examine tins of Similac Gainplus EyeQ milk formula at a store on Ha Noi's Hang Buom Street. — VNA/VNS Photo Duong Ngoc

HCM CITY (VNS) — Nguyen Thi To Tram of HCM City is worried after hearing that dairy products made using whey protein from New Zealand could be tainted with botulinum, the bacterium that causes potentially fatal botulism.

She gives her 18-month-old daughter Similac Gainplus formula made by Abbott Laboratories possibly. It is made from New Zealand’s Fonterra.

Tram checked the lot number on the bottom of the formula tin to make sure it was not from a Similac batch suspected to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum.

Tran Thi Hai Yen is not so lucky. Her 15-month-old son has been drinking formula from a batch suspected to be contaminated.

The owner of a shop selling the formula in District 2 said some mothers brought tins of milk powder to his shop for exchange last Sunday.

Nguyen Van Thuan, who has a nine-month old son, is worried if other dairy products could be tainted since Fonterra is a big supplier to many countries.

The Viet Nam Food Association under the Ministry of Health recently requested the Vietnamese importer of the Australia Nutrition Company Limited to check its imports of Karicare formula milk from New Zealand, following concerns it may be contaminated with toxic bacteria.

According to the association, New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries on Sunday officially announced a list of products suspected to contain the bacteria. They include Karicare Formula 1 and Karicare Gold+ Follow on Formula 2.

The Viet Nam Food Association has responded by quickly checking imports of the products into the country from last year. However, none have been reported to have been sold in Viet Nam.

In response to public concerns, the association on Monday issued an official document ordering local importers, traders and manufacturers of dairy products to submit reports on products that were made using whey protein concentrate.

Under the document, the Vietnamese distributor of the US-made baby formula Abbott was requested to stop circulation and recall 11 imported lots of the products, which are suspected of containing Clostridium Botulinum.

These include 2564G54114, 2564G54115, 2564G54116, 2564G54117, 2564G54118, 2565G54118, 2565G54119, 2566G54119, 2566G54120, 2567G54120, and 2676G54120.

“The company so far has called over 10,000 cases of Similac Gain Plus Eye-Q formula milk cans and is calling the rest 2,900 cans”, said head of the Ministry of Health’s Viet Nam Food Administration Tran Quang Trung.

Trung added that samples of the products have been sent to the National Institute of Food Control for tests for bacterial infection level and the result would be announced today.

The Administration on Monday also received a report from Danone Viet Nam Company, importer of Dumex formula milk, about one lot of Dumex Gold products that were suspected to be infected with the Clostridium Botulinum.

Specifically, more than 7,000 cans of Dumex Gold 2 formula for babies of 6-12 months of the batch number 300513R1 which were manufactured by Malaysia-based Danone Dumex SDN Company had a risk of bacterial infection.

Danone Viet Nam Company has been ordered to withdraw the tainted products promptly and results of the recall must be reported to Viet Nam Food Administration by 4pm every day.

Clostridium Botulinum is a bacterium that produces several toxins and can cause nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting, muscular paralysis or even death.

Products considered safe

New Zealand whey protein producer Fonterra did not supply bacteria-tainted batches to FrieslandCampina, the dairy maker has claimed in a press release.

The Dutch company said Vietnamese consumers can be assured that its Friso and Dutch Lady are safe for consumption.

Three batches of whey protein concentrate produced by Fonterra contained traces of Clostridium botulinum, which causes the deadly botulism.

FrieslandCampina said: “We can confirm that FrieslandCampina Viet Nam did not purchase any of the affected batches.”

On Monday, Vinamilk said it did not import whey protein concentrate from Fonterra, adding all its imports are from the US and EU.

It has reported this to the Food Safety Department.

3A Nutrition (Viet Nam) Company, a distributor of formula products made by Abbott Laboratories, said none of the products it supplied supermarket chain Co-opMart are from the tainted batches. — VNS

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