Botulism scare a false alarm for Fonterra

The batch of contaminated whey protein concentrate from dairy giant Fonterra has turned out to have been wrongly identified as a potentially causing botulism.

Acting director for the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries, Scott Gallacher said that testing completed both in New Zealand and the United States indicated that the organism in question was in fact clostridium sporogenes – which is usually associated with food spoilage and holds no food safety risk, the Weekly Times Now reports.

Fonterra raised the alarm earlier this month in belief that five batches of the contaminated whey product – which is used in the company’s infant baby formula products and sports drinks – could contain a bacterium capable of causing the potentially fatal paralytic illness.

The alarm led to a widespread recall around the globe with several countries halting supply of the company’s products.

Gary Romano, managing director of Fonterra also resigned from his position a few weeks after the botulism scare was announced.

The Ministry of Primary Industries stated that while the botulism scare appeared to be a false alarm, hygiene issues relating to the processing of whey protein concentrate ‘remains a concern for customers’.

The pipe which has been identified as the cause of the contamination has since been decommissioned.


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