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Fonterra Confirms No Health Risk with High School Project

9 August 2013
Fonterra Confirms No Health Risk with High School Project
Fonterra today confirmed that there is no health risk to students at Palmerston North Girls’ High School who drank drinks that included whey protein concentrate (WPC80) from a batch subsequently subject to the recent precautionary recall.

Fonterra visited the school today to work with the principal and teachers as they informed students and parents about the whey protein concentrate provided to the school. The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health have also been involved in supporting the school.

Fonterra Chief Technology Officer Dr Jeremy Hill said Fonterra established last night that a small portion of some potentially affected whey protein concentrate was provided to the school in February 2013.

The school requested the product in December 2012 for a science project. A 12 kilogram bag of the potentially affected whey protein concentrate was provided by Fonterra’s Innovation Centre, which is part of the Co-operative’s research and development facility at Palmerston North.

Whey protein concentrate is used by the Innovation Centre in the normal course of business for new product development. The product was provided to the Innovation Centre and subsequently to the school before testing began as part of the precautionary recall currently underway.

Students used the whey protein concentrate as part of a successful science project, which involved making smoothie drinks that included whey protein concentrate as an ingredient.

Palmerston North Girls’ High School Principal, Melba Scott, said the science project finished in April 2013 and there have been no reports of ill health.

Dr Hill said, “As we advised earlier this week, the processes involved in manufacturing beverages make the resulting products safe to drink. It’s now more than three months since the science project finished. The school has confirmed that there have been no reports of ill health. There is absolutely no risk to any of the pupils”.

Ms Scott said the school was in the process of informing the school community, and would support students and parents if there were any concerns.

“While I expect that there may be some anxiety, the project finished back in April and none of the students reported any ill-effects from the smoothies,” she said.

Earlier today, Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings said, “I am disappointed and concerned to learn of this incident. While I realise that agreeing to provide the whey protein concentrate to the school for their project was well-intentioned, providing product from the Innovation Centre in this way should never have happened.

“I can fully understand this may cause some anxiety in the school community and on behalf of everyone at Fonterra, I want to say how sorry we are that this has happened.”

Fonterra has also been liaising with the Ministry for Primary Industries about this matter. If any students, teachers or parents have any concerns they should contact the Healthline on 0800 611 116.

- ENDS -

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