Dairy products are open to E.coli contamination because of
the prevalence of the bacteria in animal waste, one disease
The warning comes after dairy giant Fonterra issued an urgent
recall of four of its fresh cream products last night, over
fears it may contain the E.coli bacterium.
Almost 9000 bottles of Anchor and Pams branded cream, which
have been distributed to shops and food service outlets
across the North Island, are affected by the recall.
Fonterra Brands NZ managing director Peter McClure said the
company was sorry for the inconvenience and concern the
recall might cause "but food safety and quality are our top
People were advised not to use the cream, but to return it to
where they bought it for a refund.
Mr McClure said signs of E-coli were discovered during
standard testing yesterday morning.
The tests showed an unusually high "spike" of coli form in
fresh cream and milk at Fonterra's Takanini plant in South
Three samples were sent for independent testing, which
confirmed the contamination.
"All three samples they tested at an independent lab showed
positive results for E.coli," Mr McClure said.
The results were "very, very unusual".
"In the last 20-odd years we've never had an incident of
E.coli in milk despite periodic spiking in coliforms."
Professor Kurt Krause, head of the biochemistry department at
Otago University and director of the Webster Centre for
Infectious Diseases, said there is "an awful lot of
opportunity" for E.coli contamination of dairy products
because the bacteria is commonly found in faeces and animal
He said Fonterra still has a lot of questions to answer
before the true extent of the bacteria find could be known.
"Was there a problem with the process of carrying out the
normal food safety procedures and processing this cream, or
was there another cause of the contamination?
"I'm thinking that cream and milk and dairy products like
this are pasteurised, and pasteurisation is highly effective
at reducing the counts of E.coli, which otherwise would be
much more numerous. So did the pasteurisation break down, was
it not pasteurised, did something in the system break down? I
think we need more information from Fonterra before we can
make any judgement."
Mr McClure said the cause of the contamination was being
investigated and answers were expected "in a few days".
Meanwhile, Labour's primary industries spokesman Damien
O'Connor hit out at the Government, saying the recall "once
again tests the credibility of our food safety systems".
He said the timing of food testing and the accuracy of
information provided to companies, such as Fonterra, "needs
Mr O'Connor called for a stand-alone food safety agency to
ensure food production "can be accurately and independently
"Fonterra is our biggest company, food production is our
biggest export, and New Zealand cannot afford mistakes that
can further damage our international reputation."
Affected batch numbers:
* Pams Cream 500ml - 1400684206 - best before date
* Anchor Cream 500ml - 1400684207 - best before date
* Anchor Cream 300ml - 1400684208 - best before date
* Pams Cream 300ml - 1400684209 - best before date