"Someone slipped up at Hautapu - the pipes shouldn't have been dirty, but these things happen," said Wanganui Federated Farmers dairy chairman Tony Rogers yesterday.

It is a slip-up that has sparked a contamination scare estimated to have cost Fonterra $2 billion already and seen countries ban New Zealand dairy products.

The uproar over contaminated whey powder is likely to affect Fonterra's share price and the dairy-dependent New Zealand economy. It will certainly hurt local dairy farmers.

Parents worried about contaminated infant formula are being advised to contact Plunket or Healthline and yesterday brands of infant formula had been removed from Wanganui supermarket shelves.


It was revealed on Friday that a May 2012 problem with dirty pipes at Fonterra's Hautapu plant may have contaminated 38 tonnes of whey protein with a bacteria that can cause botulism, a potentially fatal disease.

The whey powder has been used in 870 tonnes of product, including infant formula and in a feed for calves. It can also be used in protein drinks for bodybuilders and as a dietary supplement.

Mr Rogers, whose Turakina farm supplies Fonterra, said threats to the health of babies had to be taken seriously.

Recalling and destroying all the affected products would be a huge task, but it was the right thing to do.

He said the dairy industry needed the latest problem "like a hole in the head".

"Whenever payouts go up, there's always something that happens to stuff it up."

Previous Fonterra problems have involved melamine intentionally added to milk in China, the nitrogen inhibitor DCD found in milk and concerns about the effect of oil drilling waste on dairy grazing land.

However, Mr Rogers said the contamination issue was nothing like those - not even a scandal.


"No one has been diagnosed with botulism, and it's more than likely nobody will be."

Whanganui District Health Board spokeswoman Sue Campion said the maternity unit had not received any calls from concerned parents so far.

Plunket general manager of service development Brenda Hynes said parents should follow Ministry of Primary Industries advice which was to avoid feeding children Nutricia Karicare stage 1 for babies and stage 2 for children from six months old, regardless of their batch number. No Fonterra-branded products on sale in New Zealand are at risk, but the two Nutricia infant formulas are being withdrawn. Ms Hynes told the Chronicle calls to Plunketline had increased "dramatically" since news broke on Saturday.

Most inquiries were from parents who wanted to check if the formula they were using was affected.

If parents had health concerns about their child they should call Healthline.

China and Russia reacted quickly by banning some or all Fonterra products, and other countries were likely to do the same.


For health concerns or further information on use of infant formula contact:

Plunketline: 0800 933 922

Healthline: 0800 611 116

Ministry for Primary Industry updates: http://www.mpi.govt.nz/home

If you are concerned about your child's health, contact your GP.