Substituting for cheaper, or expired inputs, or adding supplemental ingredients isn’t new in the food world. As long as there have been food, there has been food fraud.
Melamine in dog food, horse meat in beef lasagne or seagull meat mixed with other protein sources have all garnered attention and research. Food manufacturers in China, a huge and still growing food export market, have been fingered in multiple fraud cases. The latest incident, according to Stuff, centers around reselling expired milk powder.
Chinese police on Monday (NZT) arrested 19 people in Shanghai for selling about 300 tonnes of expired Fonterra milk powder, Shanghai Daily reported.
The suspects were allegedly managing a company, which was packaging expired products of the New Zealand dairy company – one of the most popular brands in China – into smaller packages for resale below market prices, according to media reports.
After a months-long investigation, the police discovered that one of the suspects sold the expired products to another company, who in turn allegedly resold almost 200 tonnes to distributors in Shanghai and in the Jiangsu, Henan and Qinghai provinces, who sold them on e-commerce platforms or in wholesale.
The authorities have seized 100 tonnes of these products and have shut down the websites selling them.
Fonterra spokeswoman Maree Wilson said on Monday night it supported the enforcement steps taken by Chinese officials.
“The Chinese authorities have acted strongly and swiftly to investigate and arrest the people they believe are responsible for this and we fully support their actions.
“Food safety is our top priority and we are committed to providing safe and high quality dairy products.
“We work actively with our direct customers to ensure the integrity of our products. This includes providing guidelines on how to manage expired product in a responsible way.
“In this case there appears to have been criminal activity much further along the supply chain.
“While we believe this is an isolated criminal incident, we are reviewing the case internally.”
Wilson said that, to Fonterra’s knowledge, the milk powder was not being resold with Fonterra packaging.