Fonterra pleads guilty to food safety breaches

Dairy giant Fonterra has pleaded guilty today to four food safety violations following a botulism scare last year.

NZ Government officials filed charges accusing New Zealand’s largest dairy exporter of processing and exporting products in a way that didn’t meet standards and then failing to notify its officials quickly enough when the company became aware.

The company immediately pleaded guilty pleas to all charges.

In a statement Fonterra’s managing director people, culture and strategy, Maury Leyland, said it had co-operated fully with the investigation and accepts responsibility for the charges.

“We have accepted all four charges, which are consistent with the findings of our Operational Review, and the Independent Board Inquiry.

“The event caused us to examine in detail what happened, why it happened, and what we must do to minimise the risk of it ever happening again. We are making good progress on implementing the necessary improvements the Operational Review and Independent Board Inquiry identified.  We are also working with the Government to progress all the recommendations of its review of New Zealand’s dairy food safety regulatory framework, undertaken last year,” she added.

The botulism scare sparked a global recall of infant formula but it turned out to be a false alarm. The scare came after the company processed whey protein concentrate in dirty pipes in one of its factories in the North Island’s Waikato district.

Fonterra is a co-operative owned by 10,500 farmers that enjoys a near-monopoly on New Zealand milk. It has annual revenues of more than US$15bn.

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