Trouble is brewing for New Zealand’s dairy industry, and its aftermath could mar the country's reputation for quality milk and impact its role as one of the world’s largest dairy exporters.  

The problems arose earlier this week after the country’s officials announced that tests have picked up trace amounts of residue of dicyandiamide (DCD) in milk. According to The Wall Street Journal, DCD is applied by dairy producers to pastures to prevent nitrate emissions. Read more from The Wall Street Journal.

In the wake of the discovery, two of the country’s largest fertilizer companies have suspended sales of the product while officials investigate the residue further. No international standards for DCD residue levels in milk or other food products exist, and it is only toxic to humans in large doses.  

However, not having an official standard doesn’t mean that the international community won’t respond.

"In most cases, their standards are absolutely silent on this,” spokesman Todd Muller  told Radio New Zealand News. “So. technically, you could be in breach of those standards should the DCD be even in very small traces in milk."

Listen to Radio New Zealand News here.

The U.S. and New Zealand dairy industries have long been rivals in the dairy export market, and the current situation may be enough to tip the scales a little bit more in favor of the U.S. 

Even before the DCD residue discovery, U.S. Dairy Export Council Vice President of Communications Alan Levitt felt optimistic that the record-high U.S. dairy exports achieved last year can be maintained. Read more here.