2 Sep 2013

Ministry head on mission to China

1:23 pm on 2 September 2013

The Ministry for Primary Industries says its most senior public servant will fly to China in an effort to mitigate the fallout from the Fonterra botulism scare. Fonterra's chairman and chief executive are already set to make a confidence-building trip there.

The ministry says its acting director-general, Scott Gallacher, will go to China in the next two weeks to meet his counterparts but he has not had any discussions with Fonterra about visiting China together and Fonterra's planned visit is a separate venture.

The ministry announced last week that no clostridium botulinum had been found in whey protein concentrate manufactured by the dairy cooperative and that the contamination alert had been a false alarm.

However, there have been growing calls in New Zealand for the Government to send officials to China to assure consumers that dairy products exported there are safe.

The Chinese state news agency, Xinhua, has said in an editorial that China has received no reassurance since the scare was revealed to be a false alarm.

Nutricia parent company may seek compensation

Meanwhile, the French parent company of the milk formula manufacturer Nutricia says it is looking at possible compensation over Fonterra's botulism scare.

The chief financial officer of the food group Danone, Pierre-Andre Terisse, says that because of the scare his company withdrew infant formula from eight of its markets from China to Saudi Arabia and Danone is now looking at its compensation options.

Nutricia had to recall 67,000 tins of its Karicare infant formula.

Mr Terisse says the recall had a signifcant impact on infant formula sales and the company incurred costs outside its current budget in covering the recall as well as making efforts to boost sales.

Last Thursday, Nutricia's Australasian general manager, Corine Tap, first raised the issue of compensation when he said the company's own testing had found no evidence of contamination in its products.