Sri Lanka suspends sale of Fonterra milk powder batches over illnesses

Sri Lanka halts sale of Fonterra milk powder batches over illnesses

Sri Lanka has suspended the sale of three batches of Fonterra-made Anchor milk powder after complaints of illness in children.

Fonterra today confirmed the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health had ordered the temporarily suspension of the distribution and sale of three batches of 400g Anchor full cream milk powder, reportedly totaling 76 tonnes, after three complaints.

Reuters reported earlier today that the complaints - one received by Fonterra and the other two by the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health - originated in Girandurukotte.

In a statement, New Zealand-based Fonterra branded the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health action a "precautionary measure."

Dr Sanath Mahawithanage, associate director of scientific and regulatory affairs, Fonterra Brands Sri Lanka, said that initial testing on the batches in question "has confirmed no food safety or quality issues."

“We are working with the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health to lift the temporary hold on the product," he said.

“Our additional testing is focused on the three batches related to the customer complaints. This testing is additional to the robust standards testing regime all of our products go through at time of production.”

Fonterra expects an update on the situation from the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health tomorrow, a spokesperson told DairyReporter.com.

Angry protests

Fonterra was forced to temporarily suspend operations in Sri Lanka in August 2013 following a protest by angry consumers.

Around 200 people gathered outside its head office near the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, to vent their concerns about the safety of Anchor milk powder.

Earlier in the month, Fonterra confirmed the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health had ordered the removal of 39 tonnes of Anchor milk powder from shelves after tests found low levels of agricultural chemical, dicyandiamide (DCD), in two batches of the product.

DCD is a chemical applied to pasture by farmers to prevent nitrate seeping into rivers and lakes.

While Fonterra complied with the Ministry of Health request, it also challenged the accuracy of the testing methods employed in Sri Lanka to test for DCD.

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