Fonterra issues food safety alert

Fonterra has issued a food safety alert after tests indicated the potential presence of a strain of Clostridium (Clostridium Botulinum) in a sample, which can cause botulism. 

Fonterra today advised eight of its customers of a quality issue involving three batches of a particular type of whey protein concentrate (WPC80) produced at a single New Zealand manufacturing site in May 2012.

As a result, these customers are urgently investigating whether any of the affected product, which contains a strain of Clostridium, is in their supply chains. If need be, they will initiate consumer product recalls.

There have been no reports of any illness linked to consumption of the affected whey protein. Dairy products such as fresh milk, yoghurt, cheese, spreads and UHT milk products are not affected.

Fonterra Chief Executive Theo Spierings today said: “Food safety is Fonterra’s number one priority. We take matters of public health extremely seriously and we are doing everything we can to assist our customers in ensuring any product containing this ingredient is removed from the marketplace and that the public is made aware.

“We are acting quickly. Our focus is to get information out about potentially affected product as fast as possible so that it can be taken off supermarket shelves and, where it has already been purchased, can be returned,” Mr Spierings said.

“We are working closely with New Zealand’s regulatory authority – the Ministry for Primary Industries – to keep New Zealand and offshore regulators informed.”

Fonterra initially identified a potential quality issue in March this year, when a product tested positive for Clostridium. There are hundreds of different strains of Clostridium, the majority of which are harmless. 

Product samples were put through intensive testing over the following months.  On Wednesday 31 July 2013, tests indicated the potential presence of a strain of Clostridium (Clostridium Botulinum) in a sample, which can cause botulism. 

The particular whey protein concentrate concerned (WPC80) is used by Fonterra’s customers in a range of products including infant formula, growing up milk powder and sports drinks, said Gary Romano, Managing Director NZ Milk Products.

“For this reason, we immediately contacted our customers and the appropriate authorities, so that any potentially affected product could be removed from the marketplace.

“We are working with our customers and will provide more information and updates as they become available,” Mr Romano said.
Any consumer product recalls that may need to take place will be initiated by the respective food companies.

Given the potential seriousness of this an immediate recall of the small amount of products which could be affected would be sensible.

Fonterra products are trusted.

That trust is built on a reputation for high standards,  and a swift and open response to any food safety issues.


4 Responses to Fonterra issues food safety alert

  1. Viv K says:

    Why did it take 4 months to identify which species of bacteria it was?


  2. robertguyton says:

    The little critters keep moving…


  3. Viv K says:

    Seriously. This is not a political issue, I’m not trying to score points here, or make jokes about it. 10 months after the product is made a contamination issue is identified. Did the contamination occur at the time of processing or later during storage? Why the delay, shouldn’t products be tested BEFORE being released for sale? Because botulism is so serious the testing protocols should have been quicker. Surely it doesn’t take 4 months to plate and grow clostridium and I’d have thought that these days DNA could be used. We are continually reminded of the importance of Fonterra to the NZ economy, they ought to have state of the art testing facilities. The farmers who follow strict hygiene protocols at the milk collection and on-farm storage stages must be very disappointed and angry.


  4. homepaddock says:

    Seriously Viv, you are right.

    Disappointed and angry is mild. I asked in this morning’s post why did it take so long?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: