New Zealand looks to win back confidence with food safety moves

New Zealand looks to win back confidence with food safety moves

The New Zealand government has pledged to spend NZ$8-12m in tightening its food safety system following a report into Fonterra's whey protein contamination scare.

In August, Fonterra's recalled three batches of concentrated whey powder over fears that it was contaminated with a bacteria that can cause botulism. The recall turned out to be a false alarm but the fallout from the scare dented New Zealand's reputation for food safety.

An independent report into the incident, released today (11 December), found the recall was not the result of a failure of the New Zealand food safety system. However, the report made 29 recommendations on how to strengthen food safety, particularly in relation to export markets such as China.

Wellington said it would invest in establishing a centre of food safety science and research as well as a food safety and assurance advisory council. The government said it will work to simplify food safety regulations and strengthen the capability needed to support increased trade to China.

Responding to the report's findings, Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings said the development would "strengthen New Zealand's robust food safety regulatory systems".

"We have learned critical lessons from what has been a difficult experience, and the findings of this forward-looking review are an important step in our own reputational rebuild. It is encouraging that many of the recommendations are in line with our own conclusions about the robustness of New Zealand food production and safety systems."