Word of the day

August 8, 2013

Erinaceous – like, of, pertaining or relating to, or resembling a hedgehog.


Rural round-up

August 8, 2013

Fonterra launches probe into food scare:

Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, has launched an investigation into a food contamination scare after accounting for the potentially tainted product.

Chief executive Theo Spierings told a briefing in Auckland all affected whey protein and its derivatives had been contained internationally, and he was satisfied the contamination scare had stabilised. The dairy company has launched an investigation into the “human error” that caused the failure, and introduced extra testing until the probe is completed, Spierings said.

“An internal investigation has already started and it’s also likely that we will go for an external investigation,” Spierings said. “Fonterra will keep everybody in the loop and informed of our findings.” . . .

Conclusion of NDRC investigation

Fonterra Co-operative Group today confirmed it has been issued with an administrative fine of approximately NZD 900,000 (RMB 4.47 million) following the conclusion of the China National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) review of pricing practices in the mainland of China for consumer dairy products.

“Fonterra has been co-operating fully and openly with the NDRC throughout this process. We accept the NDRC’s findings and we believe the investigation leaves us with a much clearer understanding of expectations around implementing pricing policies which is useful as we progress our future business plans,” said Kelvin Wickham, President of Fonterra Greater China and India.

“We understand that a number of companies in the dairy industry were fined, with Fonterra’s fine being in the lowest range.” . . .

To change perceptions farmers need to connect – Milking on the Moove:

It’s a perception Issue

I often hear people in the agricultural sector say things like “We need to remove the emotion from the issue” or “It’s a perception problem”.

We will never remove emotion from decisions, because everybody forms judgments based on their emotions, past experience and prejudices.

People make snap judgements

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called “Blink”. In his book he outlines research that shows people make judgements on a person, product, brand based on very small amounts of information.

He says that once a judgement has been made, a person is unlikely to change their mind. . .

Stress on Rural Business Prompts New Initiative From Business Mentors:

Business Mentors New Zealand has announced a new initiative to increase business mentoring support to rural businesses throughout New Zealand, which are facing increasing levels of stress worsened by the aftermath of the recent drought, tighter regulations on health and safety, and environmental controls.

The new initiative supported by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment sees the $150 Business Mentors’ registration fee waived for businesses in areas where a medium-scale drought was declared. The country’s 17 Business Mentoring agencies are being encouraged to place greater emphasis on supporting rural enterprises. . .

‘I’d never buy Fonterra milk,’ says man purchasing three bottles of Anchor – The Civilian:

A man at a local supermarket has told a 17-year-old cashier that he would “never buy Fonterra milk,” particularly after this week’s contamination scandal, and said that this is why he’s made the conscious decision as a consumer to purchase Anchor milk instead.

The man, 29-year-old Brandon Gray, said he was “pretty savvy” when it came to selecting his products, and he wouldn’t let Fonterra’s domination of the dairy industry prevent him from expressing his disapproval of their operations. . . .


Thursday’s quiz

August 8, 2013

It’s your turn to ask the questions again.

Anyone who stumps everyone will win an electronic chocolate roulade.

( I’ve only tried to make this once and couldn’t get it to roll so had to serve it like a square with cream on the side, but it still tasted delicious).


Wide approval for workplace safety reform

August 8, 2013

Labour Minister Simon Bridges has announced the most significant reform of New Zealand’s workplace health and safety system in 20 years.

“The Working Safer package represents a major step change in New Zealand’s approach to meet our target of reducing the workplace injury and death toll by 25 percent by 2020,” says Mr Bridges.

“The reforms recalibrate our approach so we are working smarter, targeting risk and working together to improve performance in workplace health and safety.

“This is the legacy we owe to the Pike River families, the families of the 75 people who are killed each year in New Zealand workplaces, and the estimated 600 to 900 who die annually from the long-term effects of occupational disease.”

Mr Bridges says Working Safer addresses the recommendations of the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety which provided Government with a solid foundation to work from.

“We will improve the legislation and back it up with clear guidelines and enforcement, and investment in a strong new regulator WorkSafe New Zealand.

“But achieving the target is not something we can do alone. It also requires leadership and action from business and workers, working with government, sharing the responsibility and driving the solutions on the ground.

“Good health and safety makes good business sense.  It is an investment in improved productivity, staff engagement and in an organisation’s reputation in the community,” Mr Bridges says.

The rabid anti-business sector doesn’t get this.

Safe businesses are better businesses for people, productivity and profits.

Included in the reform package are:

  • an overhaul of the law, supported by clear, consistent guidelines and information for business on their requirements
  • more funding for WorkSafe New Zealand to strengthen enforcement and education and implement the changes
  • a focus on high risk areas
  • stronger focus on occupational harm and hazardous substances
  • better coordination between government agencies
  • improved worker participation
  • stronger penalties, enforcement tools and court powers.

More details on the package here.

BusinessNZ welcomes the changes:

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly said it was a significant step in the right direction.

“Moving to a principles-based regime in which health and safety responses are tailored to the business rather than the current one-size-fits-all approach will be a real help to many businesses, as will a simpler approach to levy setting and other costs.

“We are also pleased to see a heavy emphasis on clarifying responsibilities and on providing information and guidance to businesses and their employees.” 

Mr O’Reilly urged that care be taken in finalising the law to avoid unintended consequences. . .

ACC is supportive:

ACC’s Chief Executive, Scott Pickering, says ACC is looking forward to working closely with the new Crown agent ‘WorkSafe New Zealand’. The agency forms the cornerstone of the Government’s response to the recommendations of the Independent Taskforce on Health and Safety.

“WorkSafe New Zealand will bring a new, sharper focus to the importance of workplace safety, and ACC will provide all the support we can to ensure more Kiwis go home safe and sound at the end of their working day.”

Mr Pickering says he’s very mindful of the important role ACC plays in injury prevention, but he also looks forward to seeing what can be achieved with a more collaborative approach.

“There’s a growing awareness that New Zealand’s high work-related injury rates require united action, with Government agencies, businesses and workers all working together towards the same goal. . .

Forest Owners Association supports the reforms:

“The government has a vital role to play in improving safety in the workplace,” says president Bill McCallum. “It has the power to pull a range of levers that will influence attitudes, understandings and behaviours of all involved.”

He says lax attitudes to safety are prevalent in New Zealand and even with the best will in the world, it is a battle to get safety to be seen as the number one priority by every individual in the workplace.

“What we desperately need is a change in culture at all levels of our society, so that unsafe work practices are rejected as being socially unacceptable. We have seen huge changes in social attitudes to drink driving and tobacco smoking, thanks largely to government support for campaigns addressing those issues.

“We now need the same focus brought to bear on cultural attitudes that portray risk-taking as being acceptable.

“The real game changer will be when we get acceptance from everyone involved – from the boardroom through to the worker in the forest – that we have a collective and personal responsibility for health and safety. This is a responsibility to and by the worker, as well as to their workmates, their families and the businesses they work for.”

The package has also been welcomed by the CTU:

Helen Kelly, CTU President said “the announcements today acknowledge that our health and safety system is in need of an overhaul, and we welcome the direction taken by the Government with these proposed changes.”

“Moves to strengthen worker participation at the workplace are particularly positive and will help keep Kiwi workers safer at work. The inclusion of a general duty to involve and consult with workers on health and safety matters, and strengthen the role of H&S representatives will give workers a voice in how health and safety is handled in their workplace”.

Her only complaint is no worker representative on the Worksafe New Zealand Board.

Even the  the Public Service Association: welcomes the reforms, though it too complains that there’s no representative for workers on the Worksafe board.

Work safety is the responsibility of employers and employees, wide support for the reforms from representatives of both is a good start.


Keeping it in perspective

August 8, 2013

A lot of the media have been referring to the contaminated whey scandal.

On Monday’s Farming Show, Jim Hopkins pointed out that it was a scare not a scandal and Macdoctor adds some more perspective to the issue:

With everyone all abuzz about the latest Fonterra debacle, the MacDoctor thought it may be helpful to inject a little perspective into the situation by comparing it with the SanLu scandal.

SanLu Fonterra
Contaminant: Melamine C. Botulinus
Introduced by: Deliberate, For profit Accidental
Discovered by: Investigation after death of children Routine Investigation
Time taken to public announcement: 5 weeks from confirmation 3 days from confirmation
Number injured 300 000 0
Number hospitalised 54 000 0

Last night’s media release makes the contrast even greater – there was almost no time wasted in making a public announcement.

Contrary to earlier reports, Fonterra didn’t confirm tests until Friday and immediately notified the Ministry of Primary Industries and the public notices followed within hours.

That the company’s inept public relations was responsible for earlier information doesn’t reflect well on it.

Thankfully its food safety standards are considerably better than its initial communication led us to fear.

And for a completely different perspective The Civilian says Chinese media says problem with New Zealand economy is that New Zealand isn’t a ruthless dictatorship:

Chinese media have lashed out at New Zealand this week following the potential contamination of thousands of tins of baby formula by dairy giant Fonterra, saying that it was only able to happen because the country’s economy was not governed by a ruthless authoritarian state willing to terrify its citizens and companies into compliance.

Writing in the China Daily, columnist Huan Bai blamed the recent contamination scare on New Zealand’s “individualist philosophy” which “puts emphasis on personal freedoms ahead of efficiency,” and a laissez-faire economic system that allowed human beings to make choices for themselves, pursue their dreams and be content in their own fallibility without living in continual fear of execution if something goes wrong. . .


Apology and explanation

August 8, 2013

Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings is back in New Zealand with an apology and an explanation:

Fonterra Chief Executive Theo Spierings today apologised for the anxiety caused over the past few days by the quality issue involving three batches of potentially affected whey protein concentrate (WPC80).

Mr Spierings briefed media in Auckland today about why Fonterra alerted regulatory authorities, customers and the public about the product, and provided a detailed overview of what happened following its manufacture.

“I understand the anxiety this issue has caused over the past few days and I apologise for this, particularly to mums and dads around the world.

“Food safety and public health are the top priority for Fonterra, and all parents and consumers have the right to know that their products are safe.

“On Friday 2 August, after a period of extensive testing we concluded that we had a potential food safety risk. The tests showed that this risk was minute but, that it was a risk nonetheless.

“For this reason, we immediately informed the Ministry for Primary Industries, our customers and the public even though we did not have all the information about product location on hand. Our priority was to alert people to the potential risk as we continued to gather facts and, along with our customers, identify and contain affected products,” said Mr Spierings.

Over the past few days Fonterra, regulatory authorities and Fonterra’s eight customers have located and secured products that were not in the market, and where they had already reached retail shelves, initiated recalls.

“I appreciate the way our customers and their local regulators have worked so quickly with us. Their fast actions and commitment to safety have meant that almost all products are now secured – and we are in the final stages.”

Describing the low risk involved, Mr Spierings said that Clostridium botulinum needs to remain in an anaerobic environment to survive: “When exposed to oxygen, Clostridium botulinum does not survive and, for this reason, it is not commonly tested for in dairy manufacturing.

“The discovery of this particular form of Clostridium will be the subject of discussions with regulatory authorities and our own technologists about requirements for future testing regimes and quality regulations.”

Mr Spierings said Fonterra will be conducting a comprehensive internal investigation to fully understand what happened, both before and after the affected whey protein concentrate was manufactured.

“Our priority is to focus on dealing with the current situation, following which we will conduct an extensive audit into what happened and what can be done differently in the future.

“I believe Fonterra has acted in a responsible manner, with public health at the forefront of our minds throughout,” Mr Spierings said.

Had communication been this clear and full from the start there would have been a lot less anxiety.

The company is right to have public health at the forefront of its mind but that doesn’t exclude having a good public relations strategy too.

The media abhors a vacuum and if it isn’t getting the good oil from the prime source it will go drilling elsewhere.

Since the news of the contaminated whey broke I’ve read and heard interviews with all sorts of experts giving their views on what might have happened.

All left me with more questions.

Had Fonterra got its media strategy right from the start the answers would have been given before the questions were raised.


August 8 in history

August 8, 2013

1220 Sweden  was defeated by Estonian tribes in the Battle of Lihula.

1503  King James IV of Scotland married Margaret Tudor.

1509  The Emperor Krishnadeva Raya was crowned, marking the beginning of the regeneration of the Vijayanagara Empire.

1576  The cornerstone for Tycho Brahe’s Uraniborg observatory was laid on Hven.

1588  Anglo-Spanish War: Battle of Gravelines – The naval engagement ended, ending the Spanish Armada’s attempt to invade England.

1647  Battle of Dungans Hill – English Parliamentary forces defeated Irish forces.

1709  Bartolomeu de Gusmão demonstrated the lifting power of hot air in an audience before the King of Portugal.

1786  Mont Blanc was climbed for the first time by Jacques Balmat and Dr Michel-Gabriel Paccard.

1793 The insurrection of Lyon.

1794 Joseph Whidbey and George Vancouver led an expedition to search for the Northwest Passage near Juneau, Alaska.

1870 The Republic of Ploieşti, a failed Radical-Liberal rising against Domnitor Carol of Romania.

1876  Thomas Edison received a patent for his mimeograph.

1879 Bob Smith, American founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, was born (d. 1950).

1889 – Jack Ryder, Australian cricketer, was born (d. 1977).

1908 Wilbur Wright made his first flight at a racecourse at Le Mans.

1910  The US Army installed the first tricycle landing gear on the Army’s Wright Flyer.

1911 The millionth patent was filed in the United States Patent Office by Francis Holton for a tubeless vehicle tire.

1915 The Wellington Battallion captured Chunuk Bair.

Wellington Battalion captures Chunuk Bair

1918  Battle of Amiens began a string of almost continuous victories with a push through the German front lines (Hundred Days Offensive).

1929 Ronald Biggs, British Great Train robber, was born.

1929  The German airship Graf Zeppelin began a round-the-world flight.

1932 – Luis García Meza Tejada, Bolivian general and politician, 68th President of Bolivia

1937 Dustin Hoffman, American actor, was born.

1940 The “Aufbau Ost” directive was signed by Wilhelm Keitel.

1942 In Washington, DC, six German would-be saboteurs (Operation Pastorius) were executed.

1942  The Quit India resolution was passed by the Bombay session of the AICC, leading to the start of a civil disobedience movement across India.

1945 The Soviet Union declared war on Japan and began the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation.

1946  First flight of the Convair B-36.

1947 Pakistan’s National Flag was approved.

1949  Bhutan became independent.

1950 Ken Kutaragi, Founder of PlayStation, was born.

1961 The Edge, (Favid Evans) Irish guitarist (U2), was born.

1963 Great Train Robbery: a gang of 15 train robbers stole 2.6 million pounds in bank notes.

1967 The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was founded by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

1968 Jurō Wada successfully performed Japan’s first heart transplant.

1973 – Kim Dae-Jung, a South Korean politician and later president, was kidnapped.

1974  Watergate scandal: U.S. President Richard Nixon announced his resignation, effective the next day.

1980  The Central Hotel Fire, Bundoran , Ireland.

1988  The “8888 Uprising” in Burma.

1989    STS-28 Mission – Space Shuttle Columbia took off on a secret five-day military mission.

1990  Iraq occupied  Kuwait and the state was annexed to Iraq.

1991  The Warsaw radio mast, at one time the tallest construction ever built, collapsed.

1991  John McCarthy, British journalist held hostage in Lebanon for more than five years by Islamic Jihad, was released.

2000  Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley was raised to the surface after 136 years on the ocean floor.

2007 An EF2 tornado touched down in Kings County and Richmond County, New York State, the most powerful tornado in New York to date and the first in Brooklyn since 1889.

2010 –  A mudslide in Zhugqu County, Gansu, China, killed more than 1,400 people.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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