|Journalists don't want to let Theo Spierings go after the CEO of New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra held a news conference on its contaminated whey protein concentrate on Monday in Beijing. Chinese producers using the raw materials are recalling affected products. Zou Hong / China Daily
WELLINGTON, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- The head of New Zealand's farming industry gave an unconditional apology to Chinese consumers for the fears raised over contaminated produce from dairy giant Fonterra, and praised the Chinese government's reaction to the crisis.
Federated Farmers of New Zealand President Bruce Wills said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua that his members understood how the product recall by farmer-owned cooperative Fonterra had been " a bolt out of the blue for our Chinese consumers."
"Perhaps the one missing word has been 'sorry.' On behalf of New Zealand's farmers who supply Fonterra, we would like to apologize to our Chinese consumers for any concern this recall has caused," said Wills.
"The Chinese government is doing absolutely the right thing by its people. It is rightly asking hard, searching questions of Fonterra and of New Zealand's food assurance systems," he said.
"Those same questions are being asked here in New Zealand too. We work hard to produce some of the highest quality food products on earth. Integrity and reputation are everything to us farmers."
Wills said the news that bacterium linked to the potentially fatal disease, botulism, had contaminated whey product had been " an equally unpleasant surprise for New Zealanders too."
"Fonterra is a cooperatively owned company. That means the farmers who supply Fonterra jointly own it and entrust it to turn their cow's milk into high quality products for people the world over to enjoy," he said.
"If we can take some positives from the recall, it was as a direct result of Fonterra's own testing. While we know the angst it has caused, the recall is limited to just one product line and was also precautionary in its nature," said Wills.
"What this means is that some 2,499,962 tonnes of Fonterra product is safe."
Wills said he had another message for Chinese consumers: "All of the products produced by New Zealand's other dairy processors are safe and unaffected by Fonterra's precautionary recall of this one product line."
New Zealanders were honest people who tried to continuously improve and do things better.
"We must prove to our customers that our high standards of food production are more than words. We must prove that by our deeds and actions."
"This is the case 99.9 percent of the time, however, in this instance, there was a problem. We need to understand why and make sure it does not happen again. This is what our farmers want and I can assure you we will work hard to make sure this happens," Wills said.
The New Zealand government Thursday stated that the products known to be potentially affected were confined to three batches of 38 metric tonnes of whey protein concentrate manufactured at one Fonterra plant in New Zealand.
These were subsequently used as an ingredient to manufacture about 870 metric tonnes of infant formula, juice and dairy beverages, yoghurt, body building powder as well as animal stock food.
The contamination occurred in May last year, and testing in March this year indicated a problem. This was confirmed on July 31 and Fonterra informed the authorities in New Zealand on Aug. 2.
Video >> Fonterra CEO apologises over milk powder scare
New Zealand government issues new assurances over contaminated dairy produce
WELLINGTON, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- The New Zealand government Thursday assured customers of dairy giant Fonterra that it was doing all it could to contain the risks of contaminated whey products that were dispatched to markets at home and abroad.
"The safety of consumers, especially children, both in New Zealand and in our trading partners remains our number one priority," Trade Minister Tim Groser said in a joint statement with Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy. Full story