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Fonterra backs its milk amid China milk hormone scare

Wednesday 11th August 2010

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Fonterra is distancing itself from a scandal in China in which one of its downstream customers has been accused of adding hormones to its infant formula after a number of babies started developing breasts.

Fonterra said in a statement  that while it does supply milk powder to Synutra International, legislative controls on the use of hormones that promote milk production are strictly banned for use in milk cows in New Zealand. 

"The strict controls mean that it is not necessary for New Zealand milk or milk products to be routinely tested. Fonterra remains 100% confident about the quality of its products," the company said. 

Synutra International came under the spotlight after reports in the Chinese press of girl babies developing breast, allegedly due to high hormones levels in the company's infant formula products. 

Synutra said the claims are spurious, and based on media speculation instead of scientific fact. 

"China's CDC and several leading scientists already stated publicly that there was no evidence linking our products to such symptoms," said Liang Zhang, chairman and CEO of Synutra.

"We do not add hormones to our products and we have invested heavily in research, quality control, formulations and ingredients." 

The issues is particularly sensitive for China, as it comes in the wake of a scandal in 2008 in which the industrial chemical melamine was added to milk products to artificially improve their protein levels.  

Six infants died as a result and over 800 were hospitalised.

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