Keep imported food safe
Milk protein concentrates (MPCs) produced by Fonterra Cooperative Group of New Zealand were found to have been contaminated by clostridium botulinum and more than 80,000 cans of Cow & Gate baby formula powder containing MPCs produced by Fonterra entered the retail market in Hong Kong.
The suspect baby formula not only poses a serious threat to babies’ health but also puts Hong Kong’s reputation as a shoppers’ paradise in jeopardy. The government should thoroughly screen all dairy products imported from New Zealand immediately and consider a temporary import ban on MPCs and even other dairy products made by Fonterra to protect local children’s health and rebuild consumer confidence.
Relevant authorities need to step up random testing of dairy products containing raw and/or semi-processed materials from Fonterra and stay in contact with suppliers and distributors to make sure no more suspect baby formula will find its way into the city.
Quality assurance is a main reason why Hong Kong has been known as a shoppers’ paradise to numerous visitors from around the world and particularly from the mainland. It is very unfortunate that the latest food safety scandal involves Fonterra, the leading dairy product supplier in the world, and the tainted MPCs it has exported are used in a wide variety of processed foods sold to consumers through many channels, including pastry and dairy drinks containing butter, cream, cheese and/or yogurt. If such suspect foods are still available in Hong Kong they may dramatically reduce many people’s desire to visit Hong Kong, which is why the government must take all measures necessary to win back consumer confidence in Hong Kong’s retail foods.
The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, the country’s top quality enforcer, has ordered a temporary ban on imports of MPCs produced by Fonterra and baby formulas produced by Fonterra’s processing facilities in Australia. It is time the SAR government took similar steps to stop the threat at the door by staying posted on related developments from all parties concerned.
This is an excerpted translation of a Wen Wei Po editorial published on Aug 6.