AEA to test imported milk

The Atomic Energy Agency (AE) is to test imported milk powder for radiation, the Ministry of  Technology, Research and Atomic Energy said today.

The Ministry also said that the AEA will continue tests for radiation in fish and canned fish.

It also said that the ITI and SLSI is ready to provide lab facilities to conduct tests on imported milk.

Speaking in Parliament on Friday, Agriculture Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, urged the public to refrain from drinking imported powdered milk saying there could be hazardous chemicals. He did not specify the source of imports but New Zealand is Sri Lanka’s biggest source of imported milk powder.

Meanwhile Zimbio.com reported that the New Zealand Government assured the safety of its milk and dairy products, quickly responding to local weekend newspapers reports that imported milk could be unsafe for consumption.

“There is no need for consumers in Sri Lanka to be concerned about the safety and quality of New Zealand dairy products. Extensive research has shown no food safety risk at the levels of DCD detected. It is of very low toxicity, and even with extremely high doses it has been difficult to identify any adverse effects,” a statement issued by the country’s high commission in New Delhi, said.

“The New Zealand Government can assure all consumers that New Zealand dairy products are safe. The New Zealand Government’s senior official for food safety, Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) Director General, Wayne McNee, has previously acknowledged that low levels of DCD have been detected in a small number of New Zealand milk powder products. (Mr.) McNee is clear however there is no food safety risk. In New Zealand no dairy products are being withdrawn from sale, because they are all safe for consumers,” the statement said.

It said DCD itself is not poisonous. It is a non-harmful, water soluble compound that has been used in fertilisers on pastures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the leaching of nitrogen into waterways.

The statement added that despite DCD being safe, New Zealand has stopped using DCD while New Zealand considers whether to seek an international standard and what other steps should be taken concerning the use of DCD.

It said the MPI notified New Zealand’s trading partners, including Sri Lanka, about the presence of low levels of DCD in some New Zealand milk product in January 2013. (Colombo Gazette)