Baby, or infant, formula is a manufactured food for babies often used as a substitute for breast milk. It is a powder or liquid concentrate that is mixed with water and fed through a bottle. It is widely used in Asia, which represents 53% of the global market share. In Hong Kong, a shortage in availability of baby formula led to restrictions on how much could be taken out of the city and into mainland China.
New Zealand, world's largest dairy exporter, tightens quality control on baby formula
New Zealand announced a wide-ranging review of its infant formula regulations Thursday, saying it wanted to protect its reputation as demand for the product booms in markets such as China.
Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye said the review was a proactive measure to strengthen confidence in an export commodity now worth NZ$600 million (US$470 million) annually to New Zealand, with China accounting for about one-third of the market.
“Export assurances are particularly important for infant formula exports where consumers have strong concerns about food safety, quality and product integrity,” she said in a statement.
The Infant Nutrition Council, an industry body which earlier this month warned that “inexperienced” companies were risking New Zealand brands by making misleading marketing, welcomed the move.
“For consumers to have confidence in the safety of the product and New Zealand’s reputation they must be aware of the tight rules that the government has in place around its manufacture and marketing,” it said.
China’s growing economic prosperity has helped fuel demand for infant formula, with many parents suspicious of the local product after a series of food scandals.
They include an incident in 2008 when six children died and 300,000 others fell ill after drinking milk tainted with the industrial chemical melamine.
New Zealand, the world’s largest dairy exporter, is a popular source of formula due to the country’s “clean, green” reputation.