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Even more reasons for Fonterra to have gone public

16 September 2008

Even more reasons for Fonterra to have gone public

Fonterra had even more reason to go public about the contaminated milk issue after it was revealed that the company who imported the milk powder for further processing in Taiwan is one of their subsidiary companies, the Green Party says.

Taiwanese newspapers have reported that Fonterra subsidiary company in Taiwan, New Tai Milk Products, imported 25 tonnes of the milk powder in late June. This milk was destined for processing into foods and canned drinks, some of which has also ended up on shelves in Hong Kong, Green Party Safe Food Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

"This raises fresh questions about Fonterra's failure to go public immediately and issue a mandatory recall. Not only was it a 43 percent owner of Sanlu the company involved with producing the milk powder, it is also the parent company of the Taiwanese importer.

"Fonterra has revealed that it was aware of the contamination problem as early as August 2. If it had gone public with this information then and issued a mandatory recall, parents in China could have stopped feeding their babies this toxic brew and manufacturers in Taiwan could have prevented any more of the product ending up in the food chain and being further exported.

"Fonterra had a moral obligation to alert the top authorities in China and Taiwan to alert the public of the problem as any company should do in the face of a serious food safety risk.

"Fonterra has excused its failure to go public on local Chinese authorities. I hope the company was not fobbed off by local officials because of a desire to avoid any bad publicity during the high profile Olympic Games.

"According to news reports, Chinese media were issued an edict not to report on a number of issues during the Olympics, although Chinese authorities have subsequently denied this. An English translation of the instructions, reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, included this direction: '8. All food safety issues, such as cancer-causing mineral water, is off-limits'.

"These revelations further call into question Fonterra's judgement and the effect on its corporate reputation in choosing to remain silent in the face of an unfolding food safety scandal."

ENDS

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