6 Sep 2013

AgResearch says its botulism testing was sound

6:01 am on 6 September 2013

AgResearch is defending the testing it carried out for Fonterra on potentially contaminated whey protein concentrate.

The Crown Research Institute says that contrary to some statements that have been made, it did not confirm the presence of botulism-causing bacteria in the samples it checked and had recommended to Fonterra that further testing should be done.

Fonterra asked AgResearch to do the checks after earlier tests indicated that some of the whey product may have been contaminated.

Fonterra set in train the recall process that led to the international botulism alert after getting the test results from AgResearch.

But the institute says it told the company that while its tests had potentially detected the bacterium they did not confirm the presence of clostridium botulinum.

Subsequent tests commissioned by the Primary Industries Ministry found that the bacterium detected in the whey concentrate was not the botulism-causing variety, and not a health risk.

AgResearch says it has significant expertise in dealing with the clostridium bacteria family, and is confident about the work its experts carried out and reported to Fonterra.