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Fonterra milk scare: Chinese parents in 'state of anxiety'

A woman feeds milk to her baby on a stroller at a shopping mall in Beijing. Photo / AP
A woman feeds milk to her baby on a stroller at a shopping mall in Beijing. Photo / AP

Safety-scares with New Zealand infant formula have led Chinese consumers to ask "what's wrong'' with Fonterra, New Zealand's Chinese embassy says.

Fang Zhang, economic and commercial councillor for the Chinese embassy in New Zealand, told TV3`s The Nation the latest Karicare infant formula scare had forced consumers to once again reassess their trust in Fonterra.

"They are asking why is always something wrong with Fonterra,'' Mr Zhang said.

The 2008 melamine scandal, which resulted in tainted dairy products killing at least six babies and sickening hundreds of thousand more in China, and the more recent January dicyandiamide incident, which resulted in traces of the nitrate inhibitor used on farmland being found in Fonterra milk, already had many Chinese consumers concerned, he said.

A translated chinese saying: "Mistakes should not be repeated again and again, three times and you are out,'' reflected the sentiment towards Fonterra amongst Chinese consumers, Mr Zhang said.

When asked whether Chinese officials and consumers believed resignations were needed at Fonterra following the latest infant formula scare, Mr Zhang said Chinese consumers were more concerned with addressing safety issues at the company.

"The most [important] priority at the moment is to pinpoint the root of the issue and fix it.''

Many chinese parents were in a "state of anxiety and deep concern'' due to fears their only child may have consumed a contaminated product, he said.

"That's the biggest concern at the moment.''

Trade Minister Tim Groser, who also appeared on The Nation, said all the "facts'' were needed regarding the potential Karicare contamination before disciplinary action could be considered.

"We still don't really know if it was dangerous, that's one of the underlying facts in this whole process.''

"If people have broken the law, there will be consequences. If people have not followed procedures, there will be consequences,'' Mr Groser said.

- APNZ

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