Fonterra apologises over milk scare, denies cover-up: CEO

Fonterra Chief Executive Theo Spierings (centre) is surrounded by journalists as he leaves after a news conference in Beijing Aug 5, 2013. New Zealand's Fonterra said on Monday that milk products from two companies that use its raw materials are safe
Fonterra Chief Executive Theo Spierings (centre) is surrounded by journalists as he leaves after a news conference in Beijing Aug 5, 2013. New Zealand's Fonterra said on Monday that milk products from two companies that use its raw materials are safe because any bacteria would be killed during processing, and reiterated that food safety was its priority. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP) - New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra apologised on Monday for a botulism scare that saw product recalls in China, denying accusations by Prime Minister John Key that it had delayed releasing information.

"We deeply apologise to the people who have been affected," CEO Theo Spierings said at a news conference in Beijing, insisting that the company had informed customers and the authorities within 24 hours of confirming the problem.