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Fonterra Chief Executive Sorry for Anxiety Caused

Fonterra Chief Executive Sorry for Anxiety Caused

Fonterra Chief Executive Theo Spierings today apologised for the anxiety caused over the past few days by the quality issue involving three batches of potentially affected whey protein concentrate (WPC80).

Mr Spierings briefed media in Auckland today about why Fonterra alerted regulatory authorities, customers and the public about the product, and provided a detailed overview of what happened following its manufacture.

“I understand the anxiety this issue has caused over the past few days and I apologise for this, particularly to mums and dads around the world.

“Food safety and public health are the top priority for Fonterra, and all parents and consumers have the right to know that their products are safe.

“On Friday 2 August, after a period of extensive testing we concluded that we had a potential food safety risk. The tests showed that this risk was minute but, that it was a risk nonetheless.

“For this reason, we immediately informed the Ministry for Primary Industries, our customers and the public even though we did not have all the information about product location on hand. Our priority was to alert people to the potential risk as we continued to gather facts and, along with our customers, identify and contain affected products,” said Mr Spierings.

Over the past few days Fonterra, regulatory authorities and Fonterra’s eight customers have located and secured products that were not in the market, and where they had already reached retail shelves, initiated recalls.

“I appreciate the way our customers and their local regulators have worked so quickly with us. Their fast actions and commitment to safety have meant that almost all products are now secured – and we are in the final stages.”

Describing the low risk involved, Mr Spierings said that Clostridium botulinum needs to remain in an anaerobic environment to survive: “When exposed to oxygen, Clostridium botulinum does not survive and, for this reason, it is not commonly tested for in dairy manufacturing.

“The discovery of this particular form of Clostridium will be the subject of discussions with regulatory authorities and our own technologists about requirements for future testing regimes and quality regulations.”

Mr Spierings said Fonterra will be conducting a comprehensive internal investigation to fully understand what happened, both before and after the affected whey protein concentrate was manufactured.

“Our priority is to focus on dealing with the current situation, following which we will conduct an extensive audit into what happened and what can be done differently in the future.

“I believe Fonterra has acted in a responsible manner, with public health at the forefront of our minds throughout,” Mr Spierings said.
- ENDS -

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