New Zealand govt takes control of Fonterra milk scare response
WELLINGTON (AFP) - New Zealand moved to seize control of Fonterra's response to a contaminated milk scare on Tuesday after criticising the dairy giant's handling of a crisis which has tainted the country's "clean, green" image.
Economic Development Minister Stephen Joyce said officials had been sent to Fonterra premises in New Zealand and Australia to ensure the information the company supplied about a potentially fatal bug in some products used to make baby formula was accurate.
Mr Joyce acknowledged it was unusual for the government to take such a hands-on approach with a private company but said global consumers needed to regain confidence in New Zealand's dairy industry, which accounts for a quarter of the country's exports.
He said data Fonterra initially provided about the presence of a bacteria that can cause botulism had proved incorrect, leading to contradictory advice and confusion amid product recalls from China to Saudi Arabia.