Keeping it in perspective

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. . .

25 Responses to Keeping it in perspective

  1. robertguyton says:

    The customer is always right, Ele.


  2. jabba says:

    sprouts bOb, sprouts .. dozens of people were killed by organic sprouts but apart from a small period of time, they were back on the shelves for more customers to buy at the inflated prices organics get charged. silly silly bOb


  3. Quintin Hogg says:

    I have been watching this unfold with some interest.

    Much criticism has been directed Fontera’s direction that appears when things are looked at dispassionately to have been ill founded.

    The time line identified above shows Fonterra moved with commendable speed once the problem manifested itself and even when full information was not available.

    But for the PR which has been rubbish Fonterra has gone the extra mile and rather than oprobrium deserves praise for the speed with which it acted.


  4. TraceyS says:

    Dairy processing plants across the world may now begin looking at their own quality control processes and with specific testing could find bugs they did not know were there (and should not be there). So the NZ experience could raise the bar for everyone. If wise, Forterra will position itself at the lead of this process and could well benefit from it.

    It sickened me the way that some commenters jumped to conclusions claiming all sorts of things from a co-ordinated cover-up to suggesting that the dairy industry, perhaps even the country, was stuffed.


  5. robertguyton says:

    jabba – you are determined to debate the case of poisoning from organic foods. I’m happy to do that if you will do one thing toward the discussion and that is, tell us in relative terms, how many cases of recorded deaths there have been in recent times, from organically-produced foods, compared with the number of deaths from non-organic, that is, conventionally produced foods.
    Then we can debate, rather than just watch you make a fool of yourself, clanging on about one of the very few instances you have fixated on.
    (Betcha don’t)


  6. TraceyS says:

    I regularly eat under-cooked venison or beef steak because that is how I like it and in full awareness of the potential risks. I give the kids eggnog and they eat carrots they pull from the garden and ‘wash’ themselves and unwashed apples straight off the trees. No foods are entirely safe no matter whether they come from. Unfortunately risk and opportunity go hand in hand. But risk can be mitigated without killing the opportunity. Risk management has worked well because no one has been harmed.


  7. TraceyS says:

    *where* they come from.


  8. jabba says:

    what bOb .. are you kidding me .. you KNOW how many people have been killed eating organic food compared to non-organic .. woweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
    back to the thread of HP’s posting. Not a single person has been made ill from this Fonterra situation, zip zilch zero .. move on bOOby
    I KNOW organic sprouts killed dozens of people in Europe and so do you, simply accept the fact, have a rest and do some gardening to help you calm down.


  9. robertguyton says:

    Jabba – you do the right-wing proud. In you, we see the depth of the pool of talent and thinking the right can boast. Your arguments are representative of just how widely read, deeply considered and rationally constructed right-wing arguments can be. GraveDodger, Tracey, Paranormal, Richard, Roger and even Ele herself can rest easy, take some time off, let their key-boards cool, knowing that you, jabba, are here to represent their views. And you do so, so eloquently. Were you especially trained to carry such responsibility? Has your electric wit and analytical prowess been sufficiently recognised, I wonder, by the PM and his burgeoning team af PR people? You should be on the pay-roll, jabba, because if you’re not, they might lose you to Mensa or some other august organisation (no doubt you’re a member already). I remember how you shone on Keeping Stock, where you batted me from pillar to post with your cleverness and left me gasping for breath after each debate. You’ve lost none of your adroitness in the transfer from Keeping Stock to Homepaddock – same old jabba, same old intellect. I bet the regulars here want to clap you on the back each time you comment, jabba, proud, they will be, or their champion. Never give up on your crusade, jabba, to show just what the Right is made of – the Right Stuff, I know you immediately thought. Like a blazing meteor, your mind. Am I correct, Tracey? Ele? GD? Richard?
    Let’s hear it for jabba!!!


  10. jabba says:

    thanks bOb


  11. ploughboy says:

    yep customer is always right
    60% increase in volume sold 60587mt from 37948 previous auction,
    39000mt wmp went for over $5000/t
    88% over 12 months ago
    bidders up 12% to 199
    weighted av price up 0.4%
    lools like the customer is pretty happy to me


  12. robertguyton says:

    Sweet! No problem then. Don’t know what all the fuss was about. Why’s Key bothering with an inquiry then? Everyone here is happy!


  13. Armchair Critic says:

    That’s a pathetic argument jabba. I’ve become accustomed to National’s incessant cries of “Labour did it too”, but “the sprouts were worse” is a new version of the same old and useless trick.
    Theo Spiering is over in China trying to sort it out, but he’s sure as hell not telling everyone concerned “don’t worry, the sprouts in Europe were worse”?
    Next time John Key heads over to talk to his c*mmie mates the subject will be raised and you can be certain he won’t tell them “at least it wasn’t as bad as the sprouts in Europe”.

    The issue is one of trust and confidence, and there are at least two points where Fonterra may have blown it. One relates to the quality of the product; their customers trust them to deliver a high quality product. As soon as it gets out the gate, it’s too late and the risk that they’ve let their customers down exists. Once they gain a reputation as a supplier of substandard goods it will take many years and dollars to shake it off.
    The other relates to the timing around notification. Sure, there’s a lack of clarity around who knew what and when, but there’s a perception that Fonterra were not quick enough. A reputation for failing to engage appropriately with customers can be devastatingly bad.
    Both these come back to Fonterra alone, not the government and certainly not any other food suppliers anywhere else in the world.

    It occurred to me that blaming the PR response may be missing the point. No response would have been required if operations and maintenance procedures had prevented the bacteria getting as far as it did into the process at the plant, and establishing itself there. No amount of improvements to PR processes will prevent another contamination event occurring. Surely the investigations that result from this will establish whether prevention is better than cure.


  14. Viv K says:

    On what evidence are you basing your assumption that dairy factories around the world have testing regimes that are less rigourous than Fonterra’s? That is how I have intepreted your comment that “the NZ experience could raise the bar for everyone.” Botulism is not new.


  15. Armchair Critic says:

    Which commenters Tracey? Either I missed them, or I didn’t take them seriously.


  16. Viv K says:

    You can eat off the floor if you want Tracey, that is completely unrelated to food safety of consumer products.


  17. Viv K says:

    It’s what the worldwide supermarket customers think that matters in the long term. Fonterra makes assurances that their other products are safe, but until they explain, in detail, what changes they have made to their testing regimes to ensure that none of their products leave the factory gates until they are known to be free of contamination, how can consumers trust them? Last month Fonterra said that milk from Taranaki dairy farms with oil and gas drilling waste buried on them is safe, even though it has done no special testing for contaminants. Their spokesman claimed that it wasn’t a food safety issue because the waste is at least a metre beneath the ground. Things move within soil! How long before the next international headline is “fracking waste in NZ butter”? How can Fonterra be so stupid?


  18. TraceyS says:

    Oh you really do have a low opinion don’t you Viv!

    The bar can always be raised.


  19. TraceyS says:

    The assumption that any food is completely risk-free is a dangerous one. Sprouts cited by jabba is a case in point.


  20. TraceyS says:

    Your writing is some of the most boring I have read.

    It might help if you knew how to structure paragraphs. Yet that would be difficult in the absence of substance.


  21. Viv K says:

    Tracey, re your 2.12 am comment. Perhaps after a bit of sleep you could re read your 2.29pm comment where you said “Dairy processing plants across the world may now begin looking at their own quality control processes and with specific testing could find bugs they did not know were there” and then my response at 9.16pm.
    You are suggesting that other plants need to look at their quality control processes and might learn something from Fonterra. It appears (to someone who got 8 hours sleep) that you have a low opinion of dairy processing plants in other parts of the world.
    I note also that you chose not to answer my question about what evidence you are basing your assumptions about dairy processing plants.


  22. Viv K says:

    Parents ought to be able to assume that baby formula is free of botulism.
    I hope my comments meet your standards of sentence and paragraph construction. I can not influence your perception of what is interesting, or not, so apologise for comments that you consider boring.


  23. TraceyS says:

    You are welcome to your opinion on my opinion. I do not need to provide evidence supporting my opinion. We are not in Court.

    And while it is true that I seldom get 8 hours sleep, it is still possible to function well on much less.


  24. jabba says:

    GEE WIZZ .. bOb has a habit of adding content to his replies not related to the subject. I did the same and he packed a sad (mind you, I thought the comparison interesting). In NO WAY am I trying to make light of the Fonterra issue .. but as mentioned many times, not a single person has died or even become unwell.


  25. TraceyS says:

    Yes of course and people also should expect to eat processed food free from other contaminants such as bits of plastics, metal, glass, or allergens. But these things happen from time to time.

    Regarding your last paragraph, those comments were a reply to Robert’s pointless ramble.


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