Charges laid against Fonterra over botulism scare

Fonterra said it had accepted charges laid against it by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) over events that led to last year's precautionary market recall of whey protein concentrate.

MPI filed four charges against Fonterra relating to breaches of the Animal Products Act after the recall, which turned out to be a false alarm after the product was earlier linked to botulism.

Fonterra's managing director people, culture and strategy Maury Leyland said Fonterra had co-operated fully with MPI throughout its investigation, and accepted responsibility for the allegations made.

"We have accepted all four charges, which are consistent with the findings of our operational review, and the independent board inquiry,'' Leyland said in a statement.

"We have previously detailed issues relating to the decision to reprocess the original WPC80 (when protein), and being slow about escalating information which are reflected in the charges laid by MPI,'' she said.

"The WPC80 event caused us to examine in detail what happened, why it happened, and what we must do to minimise the risk of it ever happening again,'' he said.

It was subsequently confirmed that the recalled whey product did not present a health risk after it had earlier been linked to botulism. Subsequent tests showed the product - while contaminated - did not present a health risk.

Contravention of the Act can make corporates liable for fines of up to $500,000.


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