27 Jan 2013

MPI downplays DCD risk

9:41 am on 27 January 2013

The Ministry for Primary Industries has responded to negative press coverage in the United States after an announcement that small levels of dicyandiamide have been found in some dairy products in New Zealand.

MPI said New Zealand milk is safe to drink despite questions over the use of a fertiliser meant to help protect waterways from nitrate poisoning.

On Thursday it was announced use of fertilisers containing DCD would be suspended. The fertiliser is meant to help protect waterways from nitrate poisoning.

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal described DCD as a toxic substance and questioned whether New Zealand milk was safe to drink.

But MPI director-general Wayne McNee said the amount of small DCD residues found posed no food safety risk.

"DCD is not melamine. It is a different chemical and has none of the toxicity that melamine has," he said in a statement.

Residues were found only in some milk powder products and not in products such as butter and cheese.

DCD is found in eco-n and DCn which are produced by Ravensdown and Ballance. It is used on 500 dairy farms, where it is applied twice a year. It helps prevent nitrogen leaching into waterways and reducing nitrous oxide gas emissions.

"Now that its use has been suspended, it is not possible that any New Zealand dairy produce currently in production will have DCD residues in it," Mr McNee said.

DCD fertiliser use was suspended because international dairy customers expect New Zealand products to be residue-free, he said.

AAP reports the chemical became an issue after the US Food & Drug Administration added it to a list of substances to be tested for. However, an international standard is yet to be agreed for DCD.