Wellington (AFP) Aug 11, 2010
New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra said Wednesday it is "100 percent confident" in its milk supplies to a Chinese company under investigation over claims of tainted milk powder.
Parents and doctors in China's Hubei province have expressed fears that hormones in milk powder produced by Synutra International have caused young girls to develop breasts prematurely.
Synutra said the questionable milk powder was all imported from New Zealand.
Fonterra confirmed in a statement that it supplied milk powder to Synutra, but said it was not the only supplier.
"Fonterra is a supplier of milk powder to Synutra International but we understand Synutra sources some milk locally and imports whey powder from Europe," the statement said.
"Fonterra remains 100 percent confident about the quality of its products."
The company said New Zealand has strict legislative controls on the use of "Hormonal Growth Promotants" and they are not allowed to be used on milking cows.
"The strict controls mean that it is not necessary for New Zealand milk or milk products to be routinely tested."
China's health ministry has ordered food safety authorities in Hubei to investigate claims that milk powder has caused infant girls to grow breasts.
Medical tests indicated the levels of hormones in three girls, ranging in age from four- to 15-months and who were fed the same baby formula, exceeded those of the average adult woman, China Daily reported on Monday.
A fourth case was reported in Beijing, Xinhua reported on Tuesday.
Synutra insisted in a statement that its products were safe and that no man-made hormones or illegal substances had been added during production.
Fonterra also owned a major stake in the Chinese dairy company Sanlu, which was at the centre of the 2008 melamine contamination scandal in which babies died after drinking infant formula.
Melamine was found in the products of 22 Chinese dairy companies in a massive scandal blamed for the deaths of at least six infants and for sickening 300,000 others in China.
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