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Ministry acts on milk recall

Dumex infant formula is displayed at a shop in Phnom Penh on Monday. Thousands of cans of the imported powdered milk have been withdrawn.
Dumex infant formula is displayed at a shop in Phnom Penh on Monday. Thousands of cans of the imported powdered milk have been withdrawn. PHA LINA

Ministry acts on milk recall

After Fonterra’s baby milk powder scare extended to Cambodia this week and caused the recall of thousands of units, the government established a technical working group yesterday to assess the extent of the problem, according to Minister of Health Mam Bunheng.

Bunheng said the work had just started and he declined to provide any more information.

“So far, I have not received any information or result from the [group] on their meeting,” Bunheng said.

“In the meantime, we have not issued an announcement,” he said, adding that he would wait for reports from the working group.

New Zealand dairy producer Fonterra warned on Saturday that a whey product used by its customers to make baby formula and soft drinks may be contaminated with a bacteria that can cause botulism, a potentially paralytic and fatal disease to which infants are vulnerable.

Danone Dumex Cambodia, a local distributor of French food giant Danone that imports baby powder with the Fonterra ingredient, recalled some of its products, though no incidents of illness have been reported.

Danone Dumex said on Monday that up to 8,000 cartons containing 12 tins each of its baby formula were identified as possibly containing the contaminant.

Danone Dumex said yesterday that it had stepped up its response to concerned consumers.

“We have now extended our care line [number of call receivers] from five to 15 today, and we put it on for 24 hours, seven days,” Kong Bo, Danone Dumex’s country manager said.

Bo said that his staff had also been working hard in the field seeking to recall products from retailers.

The recalled formulas – listed as Dumex Dupro Green, Dumex Dupro Gold and Dumex Dulac Gold – are tied to specific batch numbers. Consumers can call 012 233 283, one of several numbers set up to handle queries for parents and care-givers.

Some stores are being extra careful. Lucky supermarket put all its Dumex products in storage until representatives can meet with suppliers, according to an employee who declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Consumers can identify recalled stock with batch numbers posted in local press advertisements. Any Dumex products outside of these batch codes were not affected, the company said.

US pharmaceutical company Abbott Industries, maker of Similac Gain milk formulas produced at Fonterra and recalled in China, told the Post that the affected batch numbers overseas were not in Cambodia.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY HOR KIMSAY

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