It's false alarm. It turns out that the botulism scare that almost crippled the New Zealand dairy industry was nowhere near scary.
Earlier in August, Fonterra, the largest New Zealand company that produces a large share of the world's dairy exports, announced that a dirty pipe at one of its processing plants might have contaminated some of its products. They feared that botulism-causing bacteria would be found in the whey protein concentrate (WPC) in their products.
The offices of the NZ milk manufacturer, Fonterra.
New Zealand Deals With Another Export Product Blow After UK FSA Issues Warning Against Kiwi Manuka Honey
The test was done by research facility AgResearch, which notified Fonterra and MPI that the samples contained the bacteria.
The contamination fear triggered recall and import bans from several countries, including China, and has crippled the whole dairy industry in the New Zealand.
However, the country's Ministry for Primary Industries has received results that confirm the bacteria found in Fonterra's WPC was not Clostridium botulinum, which causes botulism.
In fact, the organism that was found in the products was Clostridium sporogenes, which is not capable of producing botulism-causing toxins. Clostridium sporogenes is not considered a health risk, though it was linked to potential food spoilage.
The latest research had a total of 195 tests that were carried out in laboratories both in the U.S. and in New Zealand.
"Results from the most definitive of these tests arrived over night, and were assessed with appropriate technical advice on hand today," director general Scott Gallacher said in a statement.
Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings was relieved that it turned out to be just a false alarm, adding that the company's multimillion-dollar recall move was the right thing to do.
"I believe that we did the right thing and made the right calls all the way through this," Mr Spierings said during a news conference.
"For us food safety is number one on our agenda and all our systems and all our people acted accordingly."
He could not explain to the media how the testing done by AgResearch misidentified a bacteria that caused the company loss in revenue. Fonterra will deal with whether it would take legal action against the research company after an internal review.
The dairy giant will now proceed with recovery and rebuilding its reputation in local and international market.
New Zealand's Fonterra Suspends Operations In Sri Lanka, 755 Employees Without Work [Read]
New Zealand Deal With Another Export Product Blow After UK FSA Issues Warning Against Kiwi Manuka Honey [Read]
Fonterra Apologises To Chinese Consumers Over Contaminated Milk Powder [Read]
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