Monday, September 29, 2008

Seriously Serious Bad News

A story has just appeared on The Herald's site which could represent the biggest threat to our economic wellbeing since Britain joined the Common Market.

For the first time, a New Zealand manufacturer has found product manufactured here, from milk produced here, is contaminated with melamine - that stuff that kills babies in China. This is a potential disaster second only to a serious foot and mouth outbreak.

The manufacturer is Tatua Dairy Company which is a small but active competitor of dairy giant Fonterra.

It is thought that the melamine might have been a contaminant of cheap imported palm kernel which has been used extensively throughout the Waikato as a supplementary feed instead of home grown silage Who knows what quality standards might have applied in the third world countries which produce palm oil and its byproduct palm kernel? Well. I do. And they are poor to non- existent. It looks as though the prosperity of our whole dairy industry and therefore our nation's economy might well be brought crashing down by a failure to recognise the dangers inherent in importing materials from sub standard economies.

"Kevin and Jason have palm kernel and tapioca pellets to thank for a lift in milk production.
With the lack of rain falling in Reporoa recently, Kevin Fitzgerald’s cows would have struggled to produce above the regional average if they were not getting a daily blend of palm kernel and tapioca pellets.

What rain they have had was burned or blown off as quickly as it hit the ground, yet Fitzgerald’s milk production is already 8.5% ahead of last year, and last year was 10% ahead of the year before."

If this is the source of contamination, then Fonterra will have the same problem.

Adolf sincerely hopes nobody from Nestle is reading this blog or the NZ Herald.

They will have a field day.


Adolf Fiinkensein said...

The first and most obvious question is 'Who was responsible for this extraordinary breach of our bio security? Who has been testing the vast tonnages of imported palm kernel for contaminates?

Answer: For the past nine years, LABOUR. But they didn't do the job properly because they were soley focused on retrospectively legislating their theft from tax payers and ramming through their anti-smacking bill and their Electoral Finance Bill.

Meantime the country's prosperity has gone to Hell.

Anonymous said...

Adolf sincerely hopes nobody from Nestle is reading this blog or the NZ Herald.

Too f. late.

It's not Nestle we should be worried about: it's Japan and the EU

Bye Bye NZ's economy

thank you helen

thank you helen

thank you helen

homepaddock said...

Calm down this is a food safety issue about which we should be concerned but it's not nearly as bad as you think.

The melamine milk poisoning issue rightly highlights the need to be very careful about safety at all stages of the production chain.

But we also need to be careful about causing needless worry over elements in tiny quantities which won't cause harm.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Homepaddock, it's not the technicalities I'm so much concerned about but the manner in which a perceived problem might be used by our commercial 'enemies' to block or steal our hard won markets.

The issue is "What have we done to allow adverse publicity, no matter how ill informed, to be used to do us commercial damage.?"

You might remember that a completely spurious technical argument about fire blight has kept NZ apples out of Australia for what? Nearly a hundred years?

If Fonterra are found to have the same problem do you seriously suggest that its competitors will 'calm down?' I suggest a pretty good start would be an immediate ban on the importation and sale of palm kernal until all existing supplies have been rigorously tested and a thorough testing regime is put in place for all future shipments.

Have you ever seen the way illiterate peasant workers throw pesticides around in the tropics? I have and it would make your blood curdle.

While not quite the tropics, I well remember an Italian migrant strawberry grower who regularly sprayed the fruit on his stall at Swan Hill with Phosdrin every day, about twenty minutes before the tourist bus arrived.

Isa to keepa da flies off.

Go and have a look at the dermal and oral LD50 ratings for Phosdrin.

Psycho Milt said...

Adolf - spoke to someone at Fonterra Innovation, ie someone with no axe to grind for Tatua. Their assessment:

1. Melamine's in the natural environment, and traces of it will show up if it's been used in fertilisers etc. There's probably trace amounts of it in all milk.

2. To make lactoferrin, you use a shitload of milk. Concentrate all that milk down to get the lactoferrin, and you'll concentrate other things in the milk too.

3. Melamine is difficult and expensive to test for, so up til now they mostly haven't - because why would there be large quantities of it in there to show up in the tests? Was a solid argument up until this month... Oh well - there are downsides to joint ventures with companies owned by corrupt and murderous totalitarian govts, I guess.

homepaddock said...

Adolf - Roarprawn shows our competitors are already working to disadvantage us:

Anonymous said...

I am always unpleasantly surprised by the naivete of firms that contract out their manufacturing to Asia.
The books look good, OSH and the RMA are finally off the radar and everybody is a great bloke. Then some inscrutable collection of oriental gentlemen figure out a way to cook the books, crimp on material, shortcut the process. and do off the books run-ons. Then the stuff hits the fan and everybody is covered in Karitane yellow.
Now it is not good for the Christian's health to hustle the Aryan brown,
For the Christian riles, and the Aryan smiles and he weareth the Christian down;
And the end of the fight is a tombstone white with the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear: "A Fool lies here who tried to hustle the East."


Anonymous said...

Second that. The naivity of NZ company managers when it comes to dealing with the Chinese is simply mindboggling.

I have witnessed a management presentation on a service delivery intervention to China by a NZ firm earlier this year. It comprised a datashow photo album made by the executives concerned during the visit and focused on such key issues as: living accomodation, the food, the drink, street scenes, and hand shake photo ops with their Chinese counterparts. "They really like us and we stand to make a lot of money" was the subtext to this bollocks.

However, these NZ managers could say nothing much about their Chinese business partner's business strategy, financial status, product quality testing, reporting protocols, etc.. None of them can say anything more than "nee how" in Mandarin.

Like I say - NZ naivity at its best.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Anonymous, what I'm really trying to focus on here is the quality control, or lack thereof, to which raw materials imported into NZ are subjected. Further, nobody in the dairy industry seems to have woken up to the fact that as the industry moves away from 100% pasture feeding to a significant reliance on grain and other supplementary feeds, they have GIVEN AWAY their biggest competitive advantage, namely the clean green image. We find ourselves now open to all the suspicions, ill informed or otherwise, to which the rest of the world is subjected.

In the blind rush to expand production, it seems nobody thought to look at the bigger picture.