Russia has lifted the temporary import and distribution ban imposed on Fonterra dairy products following the New Zealand-based dairy cooperative's decision to recall three batches of whey protein concentrate (WPC) potentially contaminated with botulism-causing Clostridium botulinum.
Rospotrebnadzor - the Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Well-being - announced late last week that following a review of new information provided by the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) it had rescinded its ban on Fonterra products.
The sanction was implemented by Rospotrebnadzor on 3 August – the day after Fonterra warned eight customers, including manufacturers of infant formula and growing-up milk, that three batches of WPC potentially contaminated with botulism-causing Clostridium botulinum had entered the supply chain.
Additional tests, conducted independently in New Zealand and the US, have since confirmed that the bacterium found in the recalled batches were not Clostridium botulinum, but Clostridium sporogenes – a non-toxic Clostridium strain.
Withdrawn the temporary restrictions
“The Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Well-being analysed information obtained from the Embassy of New Zealand, citing the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries,” said the Rospotrebnadzor announcement.
“When carrying out additional research it was established that the bacterium found in the whey protein concentrate (WPC80) produced by Fonterra was not Clostridium botulinum, but the conditionally pathogenic microorganism, Clostridium sporogenes, which does not produce botulinum toxins.”
“Accordingly, the CPS has withdrawn the temporary restrictions on the importation and circulation in the Russian Federation of dairy products produced by Fonterra of New Zealand,” it added.
This information has now been passed on to the country’s Federal Customs Service and the Office of Epidemiology Services, the Rospotrebnadzor announcement concluded.
Not supplied to Russia
In response to Fonterra’s 2 August 2013 food safety alert, finished products containing the WPC in question were recalled across Australasia, Asia and the Middle East by firms including Danone-owned Dumex and Nutricia.
Following the Russian Federation decision to place a temporary ban in its products, Fonterra insisted that none of the potentially affected WPC had been supplied to Russia.
“Fonterra primarily supplies butter and cheese to the Russian market and these are not made using whey protein concentrate,” said general manager for Fonterra in the Middle East, Africa and the CIS, Miles Hurrel, at the time.