China seeks more NZ dairy reassurances

China's food safety and quarantine agency is seeking more reassurances from the New Zealand government after traces of chemical residue were found in New Zealand milk powder.

It was publicly revealed last week that small levels of the dicyandiamide (DCD), used in some fertilisers, had been found in some dairy products - sparking reports of safety concerns in foreign media and accusations of a cover-up.

The People's Daily Online on Wednesday reported that the State General Administration of Quality, Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said at a regular briefing that China would "continue to pay attention to and investigate" the case.

The ministerial-level agency had met with New Zealand Ambassador to China, Carl Worker, and asked New Zealand to provide a risk assessment report as soon as possible, the website of the Chinese Communist Party's official newspaper said.

Chinese media have reported that Mr Worker has apologised to Chinese consumers for the doubts caused by suspending the use of DCD on New Zealand farms.

"There is no food safety risk," Mr Worker told a press conference in Beijing.

"New Zealand assures all consumers that New Zealand dairy products are safe."

The first public announcement about the DCD contamination was last Thursday when Ravensdown said it was suspending use of fertiliser containing it.

But on Monday Primary Industries Minister David Carter acknowledged that DCD was discovered in the dairy products in September and he first knew about it in October.

But he denied opposition claims it was hushed up by the government or industry because of the Fonterra shareholders fund float.

The level of residue found in the milk powder is reported to have been 100 times lower than European Union limits, but in other parts of the world there are no standards.

Dairy industry officials say a 60kg person would have to drink 130 litres of milk or 60kg of powder to reach the European limit.

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