It appears New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra knew about traces of DCD in the nation’s milk supply last September. On Thursday it was announced that two fertilizer companies had halted the sale of dicyandiamide or DCD after traces of it were found in New Zealand dairy products. DCD is sprayed on pastures to prevent nitrogen leaching into streams and waterways.
The Wall Street Journal says the tests revealing the contaminate were carried out in September but Fonterra held-off on making the news public ahead of a $525 million(NZ) stock offering last November. A Fonterra spokesman said the company received advice from the government at the time that the low levels of DCD found were not a food safety concern.
A bigger concern seems to be what effect the news might have on New Zealand’s exports; some countries have a “zero tolerance” policy for chemical residue in food. Dairy accounts for nearly a third of New Zealand’s total exports and Fonterra is the largest dairy exporter in the world.
Meanwhile, Fonterra’s chief financial officer, Jonathon Mason announced Friday that he would retire in the next six months. Mason played “a leading role” in the creation of the “Trading Among Farmers” program which included the public stock offering last November. It was the first time the farmer-owned cooperative sold shares to non-farmer-members.