Fonterra management hopes to start the process of rebuilding “trust and respect” with key stakeholders in China in the wake of the botulism recall by visiting the country next week.
Fonterra chairman John Wilson and CEO Theo Spierings will lead a board of directors visit to the country, where they will meet with key stakeholders and local management.
The move follows a recall of whey protein concentrate over concerns that it was contaminated with a bacteria that can cause botulism. The WPC is an ingredient used in products such as infant formula. The recall impacted eight of Fonterra’s customers, including Danone and Abbott Labratories, in various markets including China.
Chinese authorities imposed an import ban on certain Fonterra products and the recall sparked a public food safety debate in the highly-sensitive Chinese infant formula category.
It emerged this week that the scare was a false alarm.
“Now that it has been confirmed that there was no Clostridium botulinum in our whey protein concentrate, we need to address any remaining concerns our stakeholders in China might have,” Wilson said. “The feedback we have been getting is that people believe we did the right thing in initiating the precautionary recall, but at the same time we want to provide every assurance about our food safety and quality systems and processes.”
Wilson added that the visit provides an “important opportunity” to “help rebuild trust and respect for Fonterra and New Zealand dairy products”.