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Current as of 26/12/14 07:40PM NZST

Morgan Tait

Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's consumer affairs reporter.

Fonterra scandal: Panicked parents flood helplines

Helplines are still being flooded with queries from thousands of concerned parents and the country's GPs are receiving the latest advice following Fonterra's infant milk contamination scandal.

Worried parents have been seeking medical advice since the dairy giant announced on Saturday it had found the bacterium clostridium botulinum, which can cause botulism, in whey protein concentrate that was used in infant formula around the world.

Plunketline and Healthline nurses have answered more than 11,000 calls since the announcement, and the Ministry of Primary Industries' (MPI) consumer helpline has received more than 1000 calls since Monday. MPI's website information page about the potential contamination has received more than 22,500 views.

Botulism is a notified disease and any cases must be reported to a region's Public Health Service.

Yesterday two Southland babies were cleared after doctors suspected they had contracted the illness.

Health Minister Tony Ryall and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye said last night no cases have been reported.

ProCare board chairman and GP at Clendon Medical Centre Dr Peter Didsbury said some parents had been asking about the illness.

"We are just advising parents what to look for in terms of potential botulism symptoms and of course it is absolutely imperative not to use that milk."

Infant botulism

Symptoms appear between three and 30 days after ingestion:

* Poor feeding
* Weak cry
* Decreased movement
* Trouble swallowing with excessive drooling
* Muscle weakness
* Breathing problems

Getting advice: Healthline: 0800611 116; Ministry for Primary Industries consumer helpline: 0800 693 721 or mpi.govt.nz; Plunketline: 0800 933 922; Nutricia customer careline: 0800 258 268

Recalled products: All batches of Nutricia Karicare Stage 1 infant formula (0-6 months) and Nutricia Karicare Gold+ Stage 2 follow-on formula (6-12 months) have been recalled from New Zealand shelves.

- NZ Herald

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