New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra says it accepts four charges laid by New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries over last year’s whey protein contamination scare.
The charges were filed in Wellington District Court yesterday and the ministry says they follow its investigation into the food safety incident.It was feared 38 tonnes of whey protein concentrate, a key ingredient in infant formula, had been contaminated with a botulism-causing bacteria, prompting a global recall of some dairy products. Further testing confirmed the bacteria found didn’t present a health risk and the scare was a false alarm.
The charges filed by the ministry under the Animal Products Act against Fonterra are:— Processing dairy product not in accordance with its risk management program;— Exporting dairy product that failed to meet relevant animal product standards;— Failing to notify its verifier of significant concerns that dairy product had not been processed in accordance with its risk management program;— Failing to notify the director-general as soon as possible that exported dairy product was not fit for intended purpose.
The ministry is making no further comment on the matter as it is now before the courts, but in a statement Fonterra says it accepts the charges.One of the company’s managing directors, Maury Leyland, says Fonterra has co-operated fully with the ministry throughout its investigation. “We have accepted all four charges, which are consistent with the findings of our operational review, and the independent board inquiry,” she said. A tentative court date has been set for early next month. Pleas have not yet been formally entered. French food giant Danone, which made infant formula from the whey protein, is suing Fonterra for losses, claiming the botulism scare cost it more than $NZ570 million ($545.95 million).
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