|Anchor milk maker Fonterra admits infant formula safety violations
New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra, which produces Anchor, Anlene and Anmum brands, said it had pleaded guilty to food safety charges brought after a botulism scare last year that prompted recalls of baby formula from China to Sri Lanka.
While the scare turned out to be a false alarm, the Ministry of Primary Industries laid four charges against the company, including exporting a product that did not meet relevant standards and failing to tell authorities about a potential problem as soon as possible.
Fonterra said it would not contest the charges, each of which carries a maximum penalty of NZ$500,000 (US$427,000).
“We have entered guilty pleas,'' Fonterrra spokeswoman Maury Leyland told public radio.
The move comes as Prime Minister John Key prepares to visit China next week for meetings with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang designed to ease any lingering concerns over dairy exports.
The sector is crucial to New Zealand's economy, with dairy exports in January alone totalling about NZ$1.7 billion, almost half of which went to China.
The scare erupted in August last year when Fonterra announced a whey protein used in baby formula and some other products had tested positive for a bacteria linked to botulism, which can cause paralysis or death.
It led to infant formula being pulled off shelves before subsequent tests determined the bug was actually another, non-toxic, bacteria strain.—AFP