Federated Farmers believes Fonterra's recall of thousands
of bottles of cream shows the dairy giant's quality assurance
systems work - but Labour says questions will again be raised
about New Zealand's food safety systems.
This week 8700 bottles of Anchor and Pams cream, which had
been distributed in the North Island, were recalled because
of the potential presence of E. coli.
The announcement continues a spate of negative publicity for
Fonterra, including last year's botulism scare, which turned
out to be a false alarm but which attracted global media
headlines and subsequent legal action, announced recently, by
French dairy giant Danone.
While the timing was ''far from ideal'' given last year's
events, it was a voluntary recall initiated by Fonterra's own
testing and Federated Farmers dairy chairman Willy Leferink
hoped it showed consumers the company put food safety first.
''It should also tell our consumers that when a
Fonterra-owned brand is on the shelf, someone back at
Fonterra is testing it to ensure it remains safe to consume.
''It also shows that traceability is working because the
co-op has zeroed in on the batches involved and locations
they were sold in,'' Mr Leferink said.
While it was a ''fairly rare'' event for the co-operative, it
generated much media attention given the botulism scare, he
Labour's primary industries spokesman, Damien O'Connor, was
concerned the recall ''once again'' cast doubt on the
credibility of New Zealand's food safety systems.
The timing of food testing and the accuracy of information
provided to companies such as Fonterra needed further
scrutiny, Mr O'Connor said.
''The Government has been spending hundreds of millions of
dollars through its Primary Growth Partnership fund, yet
areas of food safety and science continue to be
under-resourced and not up to international best practice,''
He said Labour had been calling for the independence of the
Food Safety Authority, which is now within the Ministry for
Green Party agriculture spokesman Steffan Browning said
another contamination scare was not the start to the year
that Fonterra or New Zealand needed.