Government officials began inspecting markets across the country yesterday in search of baby formula containing an ingredient from New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra that could cause botulism, quality control representatives at the Ministry of Commerce said.
“We informed all our officials directly to collect nationwide some batch numbers of products which [local distributor of] the company informed us of,” said Khoun Savuth, an official with the ministry’s Camcontrol department.
“I don’t think we will have any difficulties because we have staff nationwide, and we have had especially good cooperation with the company,” he said, referring not to Fonterra but to the Cambodian purveyor of the potentially tainted baby formula, Danone Dumex.
On Saturday, Fonterra alerted eight companies, including French food giant Danone, that they had bought the contaminated ingredient to use in their products. Through local distributor Danone Dumex Cambodia, the ingredient was traced to baby formula here and a recall of up to 8,000 cartons of the product began on Monday.
The tainted whey protein in question contains a bacterium that can cause botulism, a rare but potentially fatal disease.
Danone Dumex Cambodia received nearly 600 phone calls to its hotline from concerned mothers on Tuesday after the announcement.
Kong Bo, Danone Dumex’s acting country manager, was anticipating an even greater number of calls yesterday, as concerned parents phoned to check their products against batch codes that contain the whey protein.
“The affected code is not the majority of our products,” Bo said, adding that he was unaware of any reports of illness.
The recalled formulas were listed as Dumex Dupro Green, Dumex Dupro Gold and Dumex Dulac Gold, powders used for making infant milk. By the end of the day on Tuesday, Danone Dumex Cambodia representatives had met with 210 retailers and took back hundreds of cartons.
With the ingredient present in products from China to Saudi Arabia, New Zealand’s Fonterra was struggling to meet its self-imposed deadline of late last night to have it removed from circulation.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP