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Questions raised over milk powder quality

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The Government will take stern action against milk powder imports from New Zealand, now under investigation based on complaints they include controversial ingredients in their respective products.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce Buddhika Pathirana responding to a supplementary question yesterday in Parliament held that instead of 100% natural milk, the respective imports from New Zealand were suspected to contain mainly animal fat extracted from pigs and cattle, followed by palm oil and lactose.

“We have received complaints at the Consumer Affairs Authority that these imports are mainly mixing of lactose and palm oil, especially the milk imported exclusively from New Zealand. According to the reports we have, based on their capacity it is not possible for New Zealand to cater to the full milk demand of Sri Lanka,” he said.

According to the Minister, the time has come for the Government to follow a similar action plan as adopted by Minister of Health Rajitha Senaratne against tobacco companies.

“We have received a research report by Wayamba University conducted in 1991. Based on this report, former Health Minister Renuka Hearth issuing a gazette notification has set standards for milk, which has to be 100% milk extracts from cows. But what we receive here is a mix of lactose and oil extracts from pigs and also a mix of lactose and palm oil as milk powder from New Zealand,” he charged. The Minister also stated that the strong mafia of the milk powder importers had started using bad practices, including bribing to prevent conducting lab tests, which would reveal the truth to the unsuspecting public.

“The Consumer Affairs Authority assigned a certain private company to do some tests using the samples we obtained. The samples were given to them without naming the brand. The local test lab, having accepted the assignment along with the money, turned down the project after a few weeks. Now we have a fair suspicion over milk powder importers having bribed this private test lab to skip. We will get foreign lab assistance to overcome the malpractices of these milk powder importers,” held the Deputy Minister, who also found fault with media for not accommodating the news about the milk powder mafia, fearing loss of advertising revenue.

Joining the heated debate over the milk powder importers’ malpractices, former Minister UPFA lawmaker Wijith Wijayamuni Zoysa held that milk powder imports were found to be contaminated during his time in office.

“These imports mainly have animal fats, which are extracts from cows and pigs, melamine and substances exposed to radiation of 200 becquerels. One such importer is Fonterra,” he charged.

Minister Pathirana also held that the Government would not dance according to the requests of milk powder importers seeking price increases. (AH) 

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