Russia bans N.Z. imports as botulism scare widens

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Russia bans N.Z. imports as botulism scare widens

Russia has followed China’s lead and halted imports of some New Zealand dairy products, New Zealand officials said Monday, denting the country’s reputation as a supplier of safe, high-quality food.

New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra announced Saturday that hundreds of tons of infant formula, sports drinks and other products sold in seven countries could be tainted after tests found bacteria in whey protein concentrate that could cause botulism.

The import bans in Russia and China extend beyond the products now being specifically targeted for recall. How long those trade halts last could indicate the extent of the damage to New Zealand’s reputation.

Dairy and other agricultural exports power the country’s economy, and China is its single biggest export market.

An indication of how serious the threat is to New Zealand’s trade came over the weekend, when the government assigned 60 officials to work on the botulism scare.

Fonterra is the world’s fourth-largest dairy company, with annual revenue of about $16 billion. AP
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