New Zealand to begin investigating on May 12 how potentially contaminated dairy products were exported abroad in last year's botulism false alarm and global product recall

WELLINGTON, New Zealand , May 7, 2014 () – The New Zealand government announced Wednesday it will begin investigating next week how potentially contaminated dairy products were exported abroad in last year's botulism false alarm and global product recall.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye said in a statement that the final part (Part A) of the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Contamination Incident would start on May 12.

"Part A will examine how the potentially contaminated whey protein concentrate entered the New Zealand international markets and how this was subsequently addressed," Guy said.

The inquiry could only begin after the Ministry for Primary Industries had completed a compliance investigation into dairy giant Fonterra, and the company had been sentenced on food safety charges in court and the appeal period had expired.

A timeframe for the inquiry would not be available until the end of this month.

"This incident has been New Zealand's largest food safety scare and while there is a need to ensure the inquiry is completed as soon as possible, this needs to be balanced against giving the inquiry team time to take a considered look at what happened and to enable a fair process to all parties involved," he said.

Parts B and C of the inquiry were released in December last year and the government had responded by accepting all 29 recommendations in principle, said Guy.

"We are pleased that over the past five months we have been able to progress most of the recommendations including the Food Safety Science and Research Center, the Food Safety Assurance Advisory Council, the traceability working group and work on the Food Bill," Kaye said.

Fonterra pleaded guilty in a New Zealand court last month to four food safety-related charges connected to global recall of whey protein concentrate over the false botulism scare, which happened in August last year.

Fonterra is also fighting a civil case brought by French food giant Danone, which is claiming compensation of 350 million euros (487.44 million U.S. dollars) for the scare.

(c) 2014 Xinhua News Agency

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