MPI files charges against Fonterra

MPI files charges against Fonterra

Fonterra has accepted four counts of food safety violations related to last year's botched recall of whey powder concentrate.

The New Zealand dairy giant issued a recalled of concentrated whey powder last August over concerns some batches were contaminated with a bacteria that can cause botulism. While it transpired the recall was a false alarm, the incident sparked consumer-facing recalls in various markets, including China and New Zealand.

In Wellington District Court yesterday (12 March), New Zealand regulators filed charges against the co-operative accusing it of processing and exporting dairy products that failed to meet food safety standards.

New Zealand's Ministry for Primary Industries, which conducted an investigation into the incident, also accused Fonterra of "failing to notify" the authorities of "significant concerns" that products had not been processed in accordance with risk management programmes.

Fonterra said it accepted it breached New Zealand's Food Act and Animal Products Act.

"We have accepted all four charges, which are consistent with the findings of our operational review, and the independent board inquiry," Fonterra's managing director people, culture and strategy, Maury Leyland, said. "The WPC80 event caused us to examine in detail what happened, why it happened, and what we must do to minimise the risk of it ever happening again. We are making good progress on implementing the necessary improvements."

Fonterra is also facing legal action from French diary giant Danone, which is attempting to recoup its losses associated with the recall. Danone has estimated the recall resulted in lost sales of EURE350m (US$476m).