9 Aug 2013

China watchdog to tighten milk powder supervision

9:49 pm on 9 August 2013

China says it will enhance monitoring of milk powder producers following the Fonterra contamination scare and "severely" punish any companies found to have quality or safety problems.

The China Food and Drug Administration has called on firms to improve their management and local supervisory bodies.

In a statement on its website, the agency said a lack of responsibility, unclear policies and lax supervision led to recent safety issues over infant milk formula, Reuters reports.

It says it is necessary to improve the quality and safety of milk powder to regain consumer confidence.

It was unclear if the agency was referring to New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra, milk powder makers in general or local regulators.

Public trust was damaged in 2008 scandal when six infants died and thousands became ill in China after drinking milk tainted with the toxic industrial compound melamine. Fonterra was a partner in one of the companies involved, Sanlu.

Fonterra, the world's biggest dairy exporter, has recalled some batches of milk formula in China and elsewhere after the company said it had discovered whey protein products that contained a harmful bacteria.

Chief executive Theo Spierings flew to China last weekend to apologise for the scare.