February, 11, 2019
New Zealand-based diary group Fonterra that sell Anchor, Red Cow, Newdale, Raththi, Pedia Pro and Anlene brands to the Sri Lankan market recently denied claims made by legislators that Fonterra products contain pork fat.
"These claims are completely false and we would like to reassure our consumers that all of our milk powder products are safe and contain only what is listed on the ingredients label," the firm said in a statement that was recently released to media.
"Our products do not contain any of the alleged adulterants, such as pork fat or palm oil." New Zealand-based diary group Fonterra’s local office said in the statement.
"In Sri Lanka, the Atomic Energy Authority (AEA), The Industrial Technology Institute (ITI), The National Institute of Health Science (NIHS) and the Sri Lanka Standard Institute (SLSI), each carry out independent tests on the milk powder that we import into the country. Therefore, our imports must follow Sri Lanka’s strict import clearance process before entering the country, which is enforced by these authorities.
Last week on 5th February Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce Buddhika Pathirana responding to a supplementary question in Parliament held that instead of 100% natural milk, the respective imports from New Zealand were suspected to contain mainly animal fat extracted from pigs and cattle, followed by palm oil and lactose.
“We have received complaints at the Consumer Affairs Authority that these imports are mainly mixing of lactose and palm oil, especially the milk imported exclusively from New Zealand. According to the reports we have, based on their capacity it is not possible for New Zealand to cater to the full milk demand of Sri Lanka,” he said at the Parliament. That time the Minister said that time has come for the Government to follow a similar action plan as adopted by Minister of Health Rajitha Senaratne against tobacco companies.
Meanwhile responding to the same Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said that “Minister Buddhika Pathirana’s statement is completely false. Our food safety section has conducted tests on this issue. I will table those reports in the Parliament. There are also reports obtained from the New Zealand Authorities. So, according to these two sets of reports, there is no other animal fat other than dairy fat in this milk”. Accordingly reports also highlighted that lawmakers, having listened to recent allegations made by Deputy Minster Pathirana on milk imported from New Zealand and the counter-arguments of Minister Dr. Senaratne, proposed to appoint a Parliament select committee.
However making a personal clarification and rejecting allegations that he was misleading the House with false information, the Deputy Minister had stated at Parliament last week that he has not disturbed the Parliament at any point and has only raised matters of national importance in the past. Reports noted that according to Deputy Minister Pathirana, he has full backing from his Ministry to act on the complaints received regarding the contaminated New Zealand milk powders.
“The Minister of Industry and Commerce assigned me to take up the contaminated milk powder issue in a communique channelled through the Secretary of the Ministry. What I am engaged in is not a media campaign to attract attention. I did not bring in Point of Orders to disturb the House. I have not used double meanings and hints in Parliament,” Deputy Minister Pathirana told the Parliament last week.
According to import data from Export Development Board (EDB) of Sri Lanka, New Zealand has exported over US $ 227.33 million or over Rs. 29.03 billion (As per average the US $ exchange rate in Rupees in 2012) worth Milk and cream, concentrated or containing added sugar or other sweetening matter alone to Sri Lanka, whilst latest data outlines that it has come down to US $ 177.33 million or Rs. 25.53 billion (As per average the US $ exchange rate in Rupees in 2016).
According reports from Reuters in August 2013, a Sri Lankan court ended a ban on the sale, distribution and advertising of all Fonterra milk products, soon after the company suspended operations in Sri Lanka. That time in 2013 the New Zealand dairy giant said it had temporarily suspended work at the Sri Lanka unit, citing precautionary measures to ensure the safety of its 755 employees after it faced product bans, court cases and angry demonstrators.
That time in 2013, Sri Lanka’s state-run Industrial Technology Institute (ITI) found the DCD in a batch Anchor full-cream milk power and another of the Anchor 1+ brand for young children, which were manufactured between October and December 2012. However it was reported that Fonterra has disputed the accuracy of the ITI testing, but the local company Fonterra Brands Lanka last later told Reporters in Mid-August 2013 that it had recalled two batches of Anchor-branded products in accordance with the health ministry directive. That time in 2013 according to Media reports Sri Lanka’s opposition for New Zealand’s Fonterra brands followed a global food scare after Fonterra said earlier in August 2013 that some of its products could contain a bacteria that can cause botulism. That time in 2013 Fonterra’s products were removed from shelves from China to Saudi Arabia, while other countries restricted imports as per media reports.
Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited is a New Zealand multinational dairy co-operative owned by around 10,500 New Zealand farmers. The company is responsible for approximately 30% of the world's dairy exports and with revenue exceeding NZ $17.2 billion, and is New Zealand's largest company.
Fonterra was established in October 2001 following the merger of the country's two largest dairy co-operatives, New Zealand Dairy Group and Kiwi Cooperative Dairies, with the New Zealand Dairy Board. The name Fonterra comes from Latin fons de terra, meaning "spring from the land".
Following is the full statement from Fontera on denying the claims made by Politicians on ‘Imported Milk Products containing Pork Fat’
Fonterra firmly denies allegations made against the company
We are aware of misinformation that was recently shared in media reports quoting Parliament proceedings. These claims are completely false and we would like to reassure our consumers that all of our milk powder products are safe and contain only what is listed on the ingredients label.
Our milk powder meets the highest international food safety and quality standards and are independently tested by both the New Zealand and Sri Lanka government.
Our products do not contain any of the alleged adulterants, such as pork fat or palm oil. In Sri Lanka the Atomic Energy Authority (AEA), The Industrial Technology Institute (ITI), The National Institute of Health Science (NIHS) and the Sri Lanka Standard Institute (SLSI), each carry out independent tests on the milk powder that we import into the country. Therefore, our imports must follow Sri Lanka’s strict import clearance process before entering the country, which is enforced by these authorities.
As a food company, safety and quality is our highest priority and we have been delivering high quality and safe dairy nutrition to Sri Lankan consumers for over 40 years. Each year milk powder from New Zealand undergoes over 6.6 million stringent quality tests across the supply chain and is certified by the New Zealand Government’s Ministry of Primary Industries.
We would also like to reiterate our commitment to Sri Lankan consumers and the wider dairy farming and business community. Fonterra Brands Sri Lanka is strongly committed to strict corporate governance policies and at all times operates ethically and within the laws of the country.