On Friday 2 August 2013, after a period of extensive testing we concluded that we had a potential food safety risk with three batches, or 38 tonnes, of a particular type of whey protein concentrate called WPC80. The tests showed that this risk was minute but, that it was a risk nonetheless.
We advised New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries, the eight commercial customers who had received the potentially affected product on August 2; and publicly announced the precautionary recall just after midnight on August 3.
Our commercial customers use whey protein concentrate in a range of products including infant formula and beverages. This means that while the potentially affected WPC80 was 38 tonnes of a Fonterra ingredient, the final products it was in were those of the eight customers and were sold under their brand names.
When we alerted our eight commercial customers, they immediately began to investigate where in their supply chains products containing the affected WPC80 were and whether any of this product was on retail shelves.
Most of the products were found in our customers’ own warehouses – meaning they were able to put them aside and ensure they would not reach retail outlets. Some products were already available in stores, these were subject to product recalls.
Our Chief Executive has apologised for the anxiety caused. At Fonterra, we put food safety above all else, and it was for this reason that we immediately informed the Ministry for Primary Industries, our customers and the public even though we did not have all the information about product location on hand. Our priority was to alert people to the potential risk as we continued to gather facts and, along with our customers, identify and contain affected products.
Fonterra is committed to providing high quality dairy products to our customers and to people around the world, and to putting safety above everything else we do.