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Pie maker convicted over dangerous filling

Pie maker convicted over dangerous filling

12 August 2008

Serving up a pie containing a metal sliver has proved costly for a Wanaka bakery in a case brought by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA).

A customer, who bought a contaminated breakfast pie from McGregor's Wanaka (2006) Ltd in August 2007, required emergency surgery to remove the metal from his stomach and spent 11 days in hospital. The victim has also been forced to give up competing as an athlete at international level because of the consequences of the incident, which will affect him for life.

McGregor's had initially pleaded not guilty to selling food that was injurious or harmful to health under the Food Act. However the bakery later changed the plea to guilty.

Expert opinion obtained by the defence counsel, which aimed at proving that a damaged can opener that was being used at the bakery could not have produced metal slivers such as the one found in the pie, instead ended up proving that it could in fact produce metal slivers.

McGregor's was convicted in the Alexandra District Court on August 1. In sentencing Judge Kevin Philips noted this was a trial case that was intended to be a deterrent and the safety of the public was at its heart. He also commented on the low level of fines available under the Food Act describing them as 'archaic' before ordering that the defendant pay $6000 in victim reparation, $2417 in witness expenses and solicitors fees of $2800.

NZFSA Director of Compliance and Investigation, Geoff Allen is pleased that the drawn out case has been successfully concluded. "It is a salutary lesson to food businesses that they have an absolute responsibility to have sound practices in place to protect the safety and suitability of the food they sell. It is also heartening that Judge Phillips agrees with NZFSA that revisions to the current legislation are well overdue."


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