WELLINGTON, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- The New Zealand government on Saturday assured all consumers that all New Zealand dairy products are safe in the wake of reside of dicyandiamide (DCD) found in milk produced in the country.
New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries Director-General Wayne McNee said on Saturday there has been some confusion about the suspension of a pasture treatment, DCD, in New Zealand and what this means for the safety of New Zealand milk products.
Two major New Zealand makers of agricultural chemicals, Ravensdown and Ballance Agri-Nutrients, announced Thursday they had suspended sales of a product that stopped nitrate leaching amid fears the residues could harm the country's valuable international dairy trade.
The move came following small traces of DCD residue were detected in New Zealand milk, which raised concern from consumers.
"The use of DCD was suspended by its manufacturers because very small traces of residue were unexpectedly detected in New Zealand milk. DCD residues have been only found in some milk powder products and not in other dairy products such as butter and cheese, " McNee said in a statement released on Saturday.
"The detection of these small DCD residues poses no food safety risk. DCD itself is not poisonous. It is actually vastly less toxic than common salt," McNee said.
He said DCD is not used directly in or on food in New Zealand. It is a product used on pastures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the leaching of nitrogen into waterways.
"DCD manufacturers have voluntarily suspended DCD because New Zealand's international dairy customers expect New Zealand products to be residue-free, where there is no internationally accepted standard for residues for particular compounds. An international standard has yet to be agreed for DCD," he said.
The New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries said there is only a small amount of dairy product potentially involved in this issue. DCD has been used by less than 5 percent of the country's dairy farmers who applied it only twice a year. Each application leaves only traces of residue on the grass for no more than a few days. This means only very small numbers of New Zealand cows could have come into contact with DCD in very limited time frames.
"The chance of any residues of DCD being present in milk products processed now is minimal," McNee assured.
"There has been no use of DCD on New Zealand pastures since September 2012, and now that its use has been suspended, it is not possible that any New Zealand dairy produce currently in production will have DCD residues in it," he said.
There has been absolutely no restriction on dairy sales in New Zealand because of this suspension of DCD use on pasture, said McNee.
Exports of dairy products make up a quarter of New Zealand's total exported goods by value, and last year the total export value was 14.5 billion NZ dollars (12.13 billion U.S. dollars).
Milk powder, butter and cheese exports were up by 25 percent, or 184 million NZ dollars, month on month in November last year, according to Statistics New Zealand.
Last year, organizations like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration added DCD to a list of substances to test for. That, combined with increasingly sophisticated scanning technology, now presented a possible trade risk for New Zealand.