Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says the government accepts all the recommendations of the report into last year’s whey protein concentrate incident.
“The rigour and conclusions of the report, as well as the actions of key players since the incident, should further strengthen confidence in New Zealand’s world class food safety system,” says Mr Guy.
The second report of the independent inquiry, headed by Miriam Dean QC, looks at how the potentially contaminated WPC entered the New Zealand and international markets, and how this was subsequently addressed.
“This is a very robust piece of analysis which makes some valuable recommendations for all parties involved. I am pleased a number are already in place or are being implemented,” says Mr Guy.
“The report concludes that the Ministry for Primary Industries took the correct decisions in putting consumer interests and public health first, both in New Zealand and overseas, by adopting a precautionary approach,” says Mrs Goodhew.
“It recommends, among other things, that MPI works to finalise its single scalable response model and undertake regular exercises and simulations. We accept these recommendations and work is already well-advanced in these areas.
“MPI has already better aligned its structure, provided greater clarity on food safety responsibilities and accountabilities to key players, and put in place new governance processes.
“A Food Safety Law Reform Bill is being developed for introduction in 2015, and a Food Safety and Assurance Advisory Council is meeting quarterly.
“Working groups with industry representation are underway focusing on traceability and capability in the dairy sector. A Food Safety Science Centre is being established, and MPI has increased its presence in key overseas markets, including China,” says Mrs Goodhew.
“In addition to the funding provided by Government as part of its response to the Inquiry’s first report, we will be providing $7.9m over four years for MPI to strengthen its core food safety regulatory and operational capability,” says Mr Guy.
“The first part of the Inquiry reported back to the Government in December 2013. It concluded that New Zealand has a world class food safety system, and that the WPC incident was not the result of any failure in the regulatory system.
“It made 29 recommendations to the Government, all of which were accepted, and good progress has been made on implementing these.
“All parties involved in this incident have learnt valuable lessons, and have become stronger and better prepared for any future issues. We are aware of significant changes Fonterra has made to its processes and systems following the incident,” says Mr Guy.
“We want to thank Miriam Dean QC who led the Inquiry, assisted by Tony Nowell and Dr Anne Astin, and Professor Alan Reilly as the independent peer reviewer.”
The full report is here.
Fonterra’s initial response to the incident was appalling.
However, the company learned from that and the government’s acceptance of this report’s recommendations will further strengthen food safety.
That is essential for both health and economic reasons when so much of our export income comes from food.