|New Zealand state agency bungled Fonterra bacteria tests
New Zealand’s Fonterra said today the tests that incorrectly identified the botulism-causing bacteria in milk food were done by a government agency called AgResearch.
Asked if the company was considering legal action against the agency, Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings replied: “It's too early to say.''
New Zealand's Ministry of Primary Industries said today local and US tests had confirmed the contaminant that triggered Fonterra product bans worldwide was not the potentially fatal clostridium botulinum, but clostridium sporogenes.
But it noted that higher levels of certain strains of clostridium sporogenes, “may be associated with food spoilage.''
Fonterra’s Spierings would not say whether a senior executive, Gary Romano, who quit after the recalls, and two other managers placed on leave, would be reinstated.
Fonterra faced criticism from the New Zealand government over its handling of the crisis and Spierings said reviews by officials and the company are underway.
The company is sensitive to contamination issues after a 2008 scandal when six children died and 300,000 fell ill after a Chinese company it part-owned illegally laced milk with the chemical melamine.—AFP