Silver Lining to Fonterra botulism scare

You won’t read about this in the main newspapers, or on TV3.

It’s tooooo good for and so must be buried in the NZ Farming on Stuff.

Handling of this year’s Fonterra whey powder contamination scare served to raise Chinese confidence in New Zealand as a safe food exporter, rather than damaging it, an expert says.

The revelation emerged out of this week’s Global Food Safety Forum in Dunedin. The Fonterra food safety scare, where testing showed the possibility of a deadly botulism germ in some of the company’s whey protein concentrate, was among the main topics of conversation of the gathering.

Keynote speaker of the forum Xiaoming Huang, professor of International Relations at Victoria University in Wellington, told delegates China was dismayed at the New Zealand response to the scare.

When the story broke in New Zealand the first question being asked was how the contamination would affect New Zealand’s image in the Chinese market, Huang told the forum. 

“I say probably not to the level we feared.”

Huang said dynamics in this country turned the scandal into a huge issue both in Government and across New Zealand society in general.

He believed similar circumstances in another country, for example in China, may not have initiated the same level of reaction.

However, the Chinese have taken note of the way New Zealand handled the threat, and it has served to cement New Zealand’s reputation as a producer of safe food products, Huang indicated.

“The Chinese were saying, ‘look at how NZ handled this issue’.”

“And the response from China was, ‘This is actually saying something about the level and the standards that New Zealand companies and the government take – a high level’.

“I think we took a positive approach. International product in terms of food is a huge thing. New Zealand products, in particular, always have a good reputation.”


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