10 Nov 2010

Call for Fonterra to do more to help Chinese victims

10:50 am on 10 November 2010

New Zealand dairy cooperative Fonterra has a moral obligation to do more to help the victims of China's tainted baby formula scandal, a doctor says.

Emerging medical evidence suggests the number of victims is likely to have been under-estimated.

The official death toll from contaminated formula scandal in 2008 stands at six, with another 300,000 children diagnosed with kidney problems.

However, Wellington paediatric surgeon Brendon Bowkett says research on screening and treatment options in China suggest that hundreds of children have probably died.

Fonterra owned a 43% stake in the now defunct Chinese company San Lu, one of 22 companies that added industrial melamine to watered-down milk to cheat inspectors testing for protein.

Dr Bowkett says while Fonterra itself did nothing criminal, it has an ongoing moral obligation to help San Lu victims, because that company no longer exists.

Fonterra says it has always done the right thing over the formula scandal. Chief executive Andrew Ferrier told Morning Report the company donated about $8 million to a maternal healthcare charity.