Sri Lanka court ends ban on sale of Fonterra products

GAMPAHA, Sri Lanka Fri Aug 23, 2013 11:50am EDT

1 of 2. Sri Lankan demonstrators shout slogans during a protest against Fonterra products in front of the main factory in Biyagama, about 21 km (14 miles) from capital Colombo, August 22, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte

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GAMPAHA, Sri Lanka (Reuters) - A Sri Lankan court ended a ban on the sale, distribution and advertising of all Fonterra milk products, lawyers said, soon after the company suspended operations in Sri Lanka on Friday.

The New Zealand dairy giant said earlier it had temporarily suspended work at the Sri Lanka unit, citing precautionary measures to ensure the safety of its 755 employees after it faced product bans, court cases and angry demonstrators.

The district court of Gampaha last week banned Fonterra from selling or advertising its products after food safety authorities said they found the toxic agricultural chemical dicyandiamide (DCD) in two batches of milk powder. Fonterra vigorously disputes the finding.

After a nearly three-hour court session, Sudath Perera, a lawyer representing Fonterra, said, "The enjoining order was dissolved on suppression and misrepresentation of the facts submitted to the courts."

Upul Jayasuriya, who represented a health sector trade union that filed the case, said the judge had said consumers could make a decision on whether or not to use Fonterra milk powder.

"They (defendents) made submissions, but the judge did not refer to any suppression and misrepresentation. The judge said that there is no independent report to say that there is DCD," Jayasuriya said.

The court also has summoned top officials at the Fonterra subsidiary on contempt of court charges for not adhering to the earlier ban.

Perera said the contempt of court case has been fixed on September 25.

Sri Lanka's state-run Industrial Technology Institute (ITI) found the DCD in a batch Anchor full-cream milk power and another of the Anchor 1+ brand for young children, which were manufactured between October and December 2012.

Fonterra has disputed the accuracy of the ITI testing, but the local company Fonterra Brands Lanka last week told Reuters it had recalled two batches of Anchor-branded products in accordance with the health ministry directive.

Sri Lankan opposition follows a global food scare after Fonterra said earlier this month that some of its products could contain a bacteria that can cause botulism. Its products have been removed from shelves from China to Saudi Arabia, while other countries have restricted imports.

(editing by Jane Baird)

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Comments (3)
Deshal wrote:
Keith Woodford has got it all wrong. Sri Lanka does not need to create an issue of this nature to develop dairy industry of the country. When China and Russia banned some of Fonterra products, due to the consumer pressure, the government tested so many imported Milk Powder varieties and found traces of DCD in milk powder imported from New Zealand. There is no politics here; it is the right thing to do and any country is likely to take such steps.
If Keith Woodford states the truth, does the same scenario imply in the case of Russia and China banning some of Fonterra milk products? According to People’s Daily, Fonterra is under investigation in China for DCD traces in milk. Sri Lankan courts have acted on the interest of the consumers; that is the right action to take.
I wish people get their facts correct before talking and express their opinion responsibly.

Aug 23, 2013 1:29am EDT  --  Report as abuse
novasl wrote:
Sri Lanka does not have the required technology to test milk… but the court order Anchor to halt on supping milk to retail stores. what kind of a game is this…

more than 700 people could loose their jobs and there could be a increase in milk products due to the selfish motives of the politicians.

Aug 23, 2013 8:52am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Bijja wrote:
This is dirty, smelly politics of Sri Lanka. Actually the government had to stop or else sometimes back this contaminated milk powder but then they hide it to keep good smile with NZ. But as soon as they got bad records of public shooting, which killed 3 people including 2 school boys,to hide it they suddenly put forward this DCD story. Now you understood the story…..the decision in on your hands.

Aug 23, 2013 11:56am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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