After New Zealand's Fonterra announced that the botulism scare was a false alarm based on recent testing results of whey protein concentrates, news began spreading like wildfire on Chinese social media. Some people praised the dairy giant's transparency and quick response to the milk scare which made international headlines and prompted China to issue a temporary ban on some of Fonterra's milk products.
News agencies in China made Fonterra's milk scare announcement as a headline on their front page when news of the possible milk contamination first became public. The Chinese news outlets' response to the false alarm news has been somewhat muted.
Among the major news outlets in China, only the Shanghai Daily ran the news story about Fonterra's false alarm announcement on its Web site.
Although the supposedly good news from Fonterra did not receive much coverage in China, Wonder Street partner Estrella Li, who is in-charge of trade and communication with China, said the comments on the false alarm news have remained positive.
Some comments praised the company for taking the right action in reporting a possible milk contamination and announcing a product recall. Commenters also said Chinese companies could learn from Fonterra in taking responsibility.
While others were relieved, some people said China was heavily dependent on imports, especially New Zealand's baby formula. They called on the local milk producers to make better milk products so consumers will patronise more domestic products.
Meanwhile, the Labour party has slammed the false alarm news as a "complete systems failure" on the part of the Ministry for Primary Industries while the ministry said it was necessary to act on the issue. Fonterra has also agreed that the ministry made the right decision.
Although New Zealand's dairy industry was relieved that the botulism scare was only a false alarm, the news gave rise to questions about how testing systems have failed which cost the industry millions of dollars in export revenue.
The Opposition parties also asked how the botulism scare was allowed to develop in the first place. Fonterra has already confirmed it would conduct an internal review on the matter.
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