New Zealand botulism scare likely a false alarm

Wellington: A botulism scare that damaged New Zealand`s international reputation for providing top quality dairy products was likely a false alarm.

New Zealand government officials said today they found no sign of botulism bacteria after retesting ingredients used in recalled milk products.

Dairy company Fonterra sparked a global recall of infant formula this month after announcing it had discovered the presence of botulism bacteria in some of its whey protein concentrate.

But New Zealand`s Ministry of Primary Industries announced today that its own extensive retesting of the concentrate indicated the presence of another, less dangerous type of bacteria but not the botulism bacteria.

Officials said the bacteria they found poses no health risk but could spoil the product.

Officials sought to reassure international markets by lifting their own warnings about affected Fonterra products. Several countries have instituted limited bans on New Zealand dairy products.

New Zealand officials said they conducted 195 tests in laboratories in New Zealand and the United States. They concluded that the bacteria in the whey were Clostridium sporogenes, and not the Clostridium botulinum initially identified by Fonterra`s tests.