Govt accepts WPC recommendations

December 9, 2014

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.


Rural round-up

October 1, 2013

Dairy farm effluent to electricity plan – Tim Cronshaw:

A new effluent processing system could be working on a Canterbury farm as early as next year as a result of a Nuffield scholarship tour to 21 countries by Meridian Energy agribusiness manager Natasha King.

King is the first person from the energy sector to win a Nuffield scholarship and used the five-month trip she returned from five weeks ago to research whether farmers should use effluent to generate electricity.

She said a possible solution had been found, but this was being kept under wraps until a cow shed trial was operating.

The effluent processing trial would be carried out on a 1000-cow dairy farm to see if dairy effluent could be turned into a fuel source, she said. . .

Ministers welcome new MPI Director General:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye are welcoming Martyn Dunne CNZM as the new Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

“Mr Dunne has an outstanding record of service in the military, the public service and as a diplomat,” says Mr Guy.

“His appointment signals a fresh start for MPI. I look forward to working with him on important issues like biosecurity and doubling our exports by 2025.”

Mr Dunne is currently New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Australia, and is a previous Chief Executive of the New Zealand Customs Service. He also has a distinguished record of 27 years’ service in the military, where he attained the rank of Major General and was the commander of New Zealand forces in East Timor. . .

Candidates For Fonterra Board of Directors’ Election Confirmed:

Candidates for the Fonterra Directors’ Election were announced by the Returning Officer today, following the completion of the Candidate Assessment Panel (CAP) process.

This year there are five candidates standing for the Board of Directors.  They are Eric Ray, Donna Smit, Michael Spaans, Malcolm Bailey and Ian Farrelly.

As in previous years, the CAP process was available to assess the capabilities, experience and qualifications of Director candidates and provide Fonterra shareholders with more information to help in making an informed vote.  While the CAP process is open to all Director candidates, it is not compulsory.  This year four of the five candidates went through CAP. . .

14 October closing date for Whey Inquiry submissions:

People who want to make submissions to stage one of the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate Contamination Incident have until 14 October to do so.

Stage one of the Inquiry will review the regulatory framework governing food safety in the dairy industry, and the recognised practices that apply in New Zealand, including a comparison with other comparable jurisdictions.

Stage two will investigate the incident that originated at Fonterra’s Hautapu plant in 2012 and developed in 2013. This part of the Inquiry is suspended until after completion of the Ministry for Primary Industries’ compliance investigation.

Chair of the Inquiry, Miriam Dean, says the Inquiry is largely inquisitorial in nature. . .

Sir Maarten Wevers joins PGP panel:

Primary Industries Nathan Guy has announced Sir Maarten Wevers as the sixth and newest member of the Primary Growth Partnership’s Investment Advisory Panel (IAP).

“This appointment reflects the growing profile and importance of the Primary Growth Partnership,” Mr Guy says.

Members of the IAP are responsible for providing advice on the investment decisions of PGP funds, and to help ensure that PGP investments achieve the aims of economic growth.

“Sir Maarten brings a wealth of experience to this role, having held a number of senior public sector and commercial roles spanning 35 years. . .

Tatua delivers a stunner:

Despite the high kiwi dollar, the Waikato based dairy cooperative, Tatua, has delivered an excellent result for its shareholding farmers with a cash payout after retentions of $7.40 per kilogram of milk solids (kg/MS).

“Tatua has always been a high performer and this is more than impressive. It is stunning,” says David Fish, a Federated Farmers member and Tatua shareholder.

“An after retention payout of $7.40 kg/MS leaves every other dairy processor trailing in our wake.  Fonterra, after all, announced last week a combined milk and dividend payout of $6.16 kg/MS. . .

Stubble fires seen as part of crop rotation:

A review of stubble burning on Canterbury grain farms has defended the practice as an essential part of crop rotation:

But it has also reminded farmers of the need to operate within the rules when they burn the residue after harvesting.

Canterbury Regional Council commissioned the Foundation for Arable Research to do a report on stubble burning as part of a council review of its air plan.

FAR research director, Nick Poole says Canterbury, as the main grain growing region, produces about 700,000 tonnes of crop residue per year, . . .

No.1 Family Estate’s Cuvee Adele 2009 takes Trophy for Champion New Zealand Sparkling Wine:

The New Zealand International Wine Show, New Zealand’s largest wine competition, has awarded Cuvee Adele 2009 the trophy for Champion New Zealand Sparkling Wine.

Made by winemaker Daniel Le Brun at his company No.1 Family Estate in Marlborough, the Cuvee Adele 2009 was launched in late 2012 as a proud tribute to his wife, Adele on her 60th birthday.

Daniel comments, “I can think of nothing better than an endorsement of this nature regarding this unique wine. It’s very special and I am truly delighted.” . . .


Caught in Fonterra fallout

August 20, 2013

Fonterra and the companies which used its contaminated whey protein concentrate featured in the news.

But other companies were caught in the fallout.

At a meeting in Wellington last week two owners of small businesses said they’d lost custom because of it.

One supplied something to a company which had had orders for its food product cancelled by China.

The other supplied a service to a company which no longer needed the service because its product was selling itself as customers switched to it from one of those which had used the whey protein.

There will be many other businesses directly or indirectly caught up in the fallout and the dent to our reputation for the highest standards of food quality.

This is why a government investigation into the whey protein concentrate contamination incident, the terms of which were announced by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye yesterday, is necessary.

“The Government has agreed in principle to establish a joint Ministerial-led Government Inquiry which will be divided into two parts,” says Mr Guy.

“Part A will look at how the potentially contaminated whey protein concentrate entered the New Zealand and international market, and how this was subsequently addressed.

“Parts B and C will look at regulatory and best practice requirements against the background of this incident in relation to the dairy industry, including the response of regulators. The inquiry will then report back on any recommended legal, regulatory or operational changes. 

“This will provide the answers needed to the questions that have been raised about this incident, both domestically and internationally. It is also an important step in reassuring our trading partners that we take these issues seriously,” says Mr Guy

The Ministers have invited Miriam Dean QC to chair the inquiry. Ms Dean is the past president of the Bar Association, a former partner at Russell McVeagh, and has held a range of board appointments.

Two other members will also be appointed shortly, one of whom will be an international food safety expert.

The details of the Ministerial inquiry, including the appointment process, are ‘in principle’ because it’s proposed that the inquiry will be carried out using powers in the Inquiries Bill currently before the House.

“I think it is important in terms of independence that we have an international expert on food safety and systems as part of the inquiry,” Ms Kaye says.

“Parts B and C of the inquiry have an interim report back time of three months after the inquiry panel has been formally established.

“This report back will feed into the work plan I already have underway to look at areas where we can strengthen our food systems, which includes infant formula assurance work.

“I have also written to the chair of the Primary Production Select Committee to ask that consideration of the Food Bill be put on hold pending this part of the inquiry into regulatory and best practice requirements,” Ms Kaye says.

The inquiry is in addition to those already announced by the Ministry for Primary Industries and Fonterra.

The draft terms of reference for the inquiry are here.


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