WELLINGTON, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) -- The New Zealand government on Friday promised to send a "strong message" to the world that it is taking food safety seriously when it released the terms of reference for a ministerial inquiry into Fonterra's botulism scare last month.
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye said the inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the international alert over the Fonterra whey protein concentrate ( WPC) would be established at the end of next week.
Conducted by senior food industry and food safety experts, the inquiry would examine the cause of the incident, the response and any lessons for the country's food safety system, Kaye said in a statement.
"The inquiry will send a strong message that New Zealand takes these issues seriously, and that we are determined to protect the strong reputation for food safety we have built up over generations," she said.
The inquiry would report back in two parts, with Parts B and C examining regulatory and best practice requirements in relation to the dairy industry, including the role of regulators. The inquiry would then report back on any recommended legal, regulatory or operational changes.
A report on this first stage of the inquiry was expected by the end of the year.
Part A of the inquiry would look at how the potentially contaminated WPC entered the New Zealand and international markets, and how this was subsequently addressed, but this part of the inquiry would only be considered after the outcome of the compliance investigation by the Ministry for Primary Industries.
The Ministry for Primary Industries announced last month that the contamination of the WPC was in fact a relatively harmless bacterium rather than the botulism-causing organism that was first suspected.