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NZ govt says bacteria in Fonterra whey 'no risk to public'

NZ government says bacteria in Fonterra whey not the strain that produces neurotoxins

Aug. 28 (BusinessDesk) – The Ministry for Primary Industries says its own testing of Fonterra Cooperative Group’s whey protein concentrate shows it contained bacteria that don’t produce neurotoxins.

The ministry released results of the tests on the urging of Fonterra today after first releasing its inquiry into the contamination scare, which didn’t include the results.

In a media release headed “Negative WPC tests confirm no risk to public” the ministry said the bacteria was clostridium sporogenes, which typically doesn’t pose a food safety risk, and wasn’t the clostridium botulinum that Fonterra flagged from its original tests.

“We sought additional testing at both local and international laboratories, seeking the most robust results we could get. Scientists used a range of methods – all came back negative for clostridium botulinum,” acting director-general Scott Gallacher said in a statement.

A total of 195 tests were conducted in the US and New Zealand, MPI said. Some of the results came back overnight.

Fonterra is holding its own media briefing at 5pm today, having clearly been riled by the lack of test results in the published MPI report. Chief executive Theo Speirings said it wanted the results published because rumours had been circulating that they were negative for clostridium botulinum.

MPI said a failure of hygiene during processing “remains a concern for customers incorporating WPC into their products.” Clostridium sporogenes at elevated levels can be associated with food spoilage.

The ministry’s “Whey Protein Concentrate Incident Tracing and Verification Report” concludes that the contamination affected only the last three days of the 2012 season WPC80 manufacture on May 17, 18 and 22, 2012.

Investigations by ministry officials “strongly suggest” no other ingredients or products were contaminated. A temporary pipe identified as the cause of the contamination has been decommissioned.

(BusinessDesk)

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