11 Aug 2010

Fonterra is supplier to Chinese firm under investigation

5:55 pm on 11 August 2010

Fonterra has confirmed it is a supplier to Synutra International, the Chinese company at the centre of allegations of hormone-tainted milk powder.

However the dairy co-operative has told Morning Report it has no information on whether its powder is used in any of the products under investigation in China.

China's food safety officials are investigating reports that milk powder has caused baby girls to show signs premature sexual development. The Health Ministry says its has arranged for officials to start tests and launch an investigation.

Synutra says it does not add hormones to its products, as suggested in media reports, and says it is in the process of taking legal action to protect its brand.

A recent quarterly report posted on the company's website says it purchases milk powder and whey protein from Europe and New Zealand.

Two years ago, at least six children died and nearly 300,000 became ill from drinking powdered milk laced with melamine, an industrial compound added to fool inspectors by giving misleadingly high results in protein tests.

The powder was sold mainly by the now-bankrupt Sanlu Group, which was partly owned by Fonterra. Two people were executed last November for their part in the scandal.