Taiwan could feel impact of New Zealand DCD milk scandal

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – If reports are confirmed that the toxic substance dicyandiamide or DCD has been found in milk from New Zealand, up to 90 percent of Taiwan’s dairy market could be affected, reports said Friday.
Two New Zealand fertilizer companies recently decided to suspend sales of chemicals sold to farmers after low levels of DCD were found in local dairy products, reports said.
High doses of the substance are deemed toxic to humans even though not international standards for its use in dairy products have been set.
Taiwan imports an estimated 90 percent of dairy products from New Zealand, and any impact from a DCD scandal might hurt the sales of adult milk powder, general dairy products, baked goods and beverages, reports said.
Even milk powder which was not labeled as being imported from New Zealand could contain a proportion of powder from that country, according to retail sources. If DCD is found in products on sale in Taiwan, it could lead to a milk shortage in the country, reports said.
With the Lunar New Year period approaching, a new scandal could hurt sales by bakeries, which reportedly rely on New Zealand for 80 percent of their dairy supplies. Prominent bread chains said they were checking their suppliers to learn what proportion of their products came from New Zealand. Alternatives could be found but they would be more expensive, reports said.
Major supermarket chains said they were not removing New Zealand dairy products from their shops for the time being.
The Department of Health had asked the New Zealand trade office in Taipei to provide more information about the issue. The authorities wanted to know which products had been contaminated with DCD and whether those products had been imported into Taiwan, reports said.
The contamination could have occurred at the dairy farms or during the production process, officials said. If the levels of DCD were shown to harm health, the products would be banned from sale in Taiwan, the DOH said.
New Zealand farmers reportedly used the substance to stop nitrates, another potentially dangerous chemical substance, from contaminating ground water, reports said.
In 2008, six children died in China and 300,000 people were sickened by New Zealand milk containing the industrial melamine. The scandal, which involved a Chinese affiliate of dairy giant Fonterra, created worldwide concern about the safety of New Zealand dairy products. The cooperative group is the world’s largest dairy exporter.