Woolworths recalls baby food

Woolworths has issued a product recall, after a customer found a complete metal blade in a pouch of baby food.

The blade was found inside a Woolworths Baby Macro Organic Tomato Chicken with Pasta Puree 120g with a best before date of 7 August 2014.

Woolworths has said the recall is based on an isolated incident and has advised consumers not to eat the product and to return it to their nearest Woolworths Supermarket for a full refund.

According to the Daily Mail, the Adelaide mum discovered the two-centimetre blade when she was emptying the pouch into a bowl and the food started leaking out of a cut towards the bottom of the packet.

The product has been sold in Woolworths, Safeway and Thomas Dux Supermarkets nationally from 7 May 2014.

 

Coles recalls RSPCA Approved Chicken Kiev

Coles supermarkets is recalling its Coles RSPCA Approved Chicken Kiev 700g (4 pack), best before 24/05/14, 25/05/14 and 26/05/14 and purchased from Coles supermarkets in South Australia, the Northern Territory, Mildura (VIC) and Broken Hill (NSW).

The recall is due to the product containing undeclared allergens of gluten, egg, milk and soy and is due to incorrect labelling. Products with other date codes are not affected.

Customers who have purchased the Coles RSPCA Approved Chicken Kiev 700g, with best before dates 24/05/14, 25/05/14 and 26/05/14, should return it to their nearest Coles supermarket for a full refund.

Customers seeking further information should contact Coles Customer Care on 1800 061 562.

Last week, Coles was fined over $30,000 for displaying food which was beyond its use-by date at its McLaren Vale supermarket in Adelaide.

The Magistrates Court was told some of the 33 items were about two weeks out of date.

Coles had recently moved to new supermarket premises in the Main Road shopping centre when council inspectors found the out-dated items, which included shaved ham and packaged salami.

 

Woolworths recall its Select Onion & Garlic Reduction

Woolworths has issued a recall for its Woolworths Select Finishing Sauce Caramelised Onion & Roasted Garlic Reduction 165g due to the presence of undeclared milk due to a packaging error.

The recall is for the product purchased at any Woolworths, Safeway, Food for Less or Flemings supermarket nationally between 18 February and 7 May, with a best before date of January 2015.

The product may pose a health risk to consumers who are allergic or have an intolerance to milk or dairy products.

Woolworths Select Caramelised Onion & Roasted Garlic Reduction 165g with a best before date other than January 2015 is unaffected.

Products returned to Woolworths, Safeway, Food for Less or Flemings supermarkets will receive a full refund.

 

Powdered sports beverage recalled over amphetamine-like substance

The NSW Food Authority has issued a statement regarding the recall of a US made caffeinated beverage product known as Dexaprine XR as it was found to contain prohibited levels of caffeine.

According to the Food Authority, the product – Dexaprine XR Green Apple – contains prohibited levels of caffeine in addition to prescription only substances and an ‘amphetamine-like substance’.

At this stage, there has been one reported reaction to the product which has required hospitalisation.

Australian importer of the product, King Sports Industries issued a recall of the product which is sold in sports supplement stores in NSW, Queensland, ACT, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia and online.

The product is sold as a powder in a 120 gram plastic tub with the expiry date of November 2018.

The NSW Food Authority has advised consumers not to consume the product and to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund.

 

Track and trace – the benefits of global standards

GS1 Australia’s Andrew Steele reports on the importance of traceability standards and other emerging local and global supply chain initiatives.

Enhanced product traceability, faster recalls and improved consumer safety should be at the top of the agenda when an organisation is detailing its supply chain process.

Traceability is key to consumer safety and an important part of any organisation’s product recall management plan, particularly in the food industry. It makes recalls and withdrawals more efficient. It ensures proper information about unsafe products can be given to consumers in the case of a recall. Not having an effective traceability process is one of the leading causes of product recall incidents escalating into a crisis.

A Product Traceability Expert Group set up by the European Commission released the Research Support for an Informal Expert Group on Product Traceability Report in December 2013, recognising the adoption of GS1 Standards as a best practice for improving supply chain traceability and consumer product safety.

GS1 was selected as one of the 15 expert members of the Product Traceability Expert Group, which was established in 2011 by the European Commission’s Directorate General Health and Consumers to address traceability and product safety issues.

Adoption of traceability standards was just one of several recommendations highlighted in the report, released by the group following two years of industry-wide dialogue. These recommendations focus on benefits for not only businesses and consumers, but also for market surveillance authorities with the common goal of protecting public safety and health.

As supply chains continue to span the globe and consumers purchase more products online, the ability to track and trace products helps properly identify dangerous products and remove them from the supply chain more effectively.

The group’s report outlined the following recommendations:

  • For economic operators, the group recommends labelling consumer products with product identification codes and automating traceability systems using global standards such as ISO and GS1 Standards for product identification, data capture and exchange in order to strengthen consumer safety and improve traceability between trading partners across multiple countries.
  • For market surveillance and other authorities, the group recommends including the use of barcodes in training and conducting traceability assessments in cooperation with private sectors as well as developing best practices to collect information about dangerous products when they cross EU borders.
  • For consumers, the group suggests raising more awareness on the importance of product identification and helping consumers alert authorities about suspicious or potentially dangerous products.

How can the employment of global standards help improve traceability and adhere to new regulations around traceability?
GS1 Standards are used around the world to identify products and capture, record and share data about these products. This information is key in laying the groundwork for traceability. Reliable data cannot exist if traceability systems are not automated. These automated systems rely on a common language of standards in order to “talk” to each other when capturing and sharing data.

How do consumers benefit from improved product traceability?
In the event of a safety issue or recall, dangerous products can be properly identified and removed from the market faster. In addition, efficient, standards-based traceability systems improve the accuracy of product information and labels.

As supply chains often span the globe across different industries and involve raw materials, additives, other ingredients and packaging through to Point-of-Sale (POS), ensuring traceability throughout the whole supply chain has become more challenging.

The ability for a company to successfully track and trace their products through their supply chain and retrieve them from the marketplace is a key component of a product recall event.

GS1 Recallnet is GS1 Australia’s secure web-based portal for the management of recall and withdrawal notifications. Based on global GS1 Standards and best practices, GS1 Recallnet simplifies and automates the exchange of information between suppliers, distributors and retailers as well as government agencies such as Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

By increasing the speed and accuracy of recall and withdrawal notifications, introducing global standards for traceability significantly decreases business and consumer risk, reduces costs, protects brands and ultimately helps improve food safety in Australia.

Why be standard?
Well-designed supply chain standards play a very important role in day-to-day business operations because:

  • They reduce complexity between and within organisations.
  • They make it easier to make the right decisions about purchasing hardware, software and equipment.
  • They reduce the costs of implementation, integration and maintenance.
  • They facilitate collaboration between trading partners in the supply chain, in a many-to-many relationship, making it quicker and easier to identify items, share information, order and receive parts or ingredients from suppliers, or ship goods to customers.
  • They help improve patient safety and reduce medication errors.
  • They enable global traceability and authentication.

Andrew Steele is Industry Manager – Food & Beverage at GS1 Australia.
 

Coles issues recall for undeclared allergen in gluten free cereal

Supermarket giant Coles is recalling its Coles brand Simply GlutenFree Nut Free Cereal (325g, Best Before 24/2/15) at all of its Coles and BI-LO stores throughout Australia due to an undeclared allergen.

The product has been identified as containing tree nuts (almonds) and Coles has said that people with either an intolerance or allergy to tree nuts should not use the product and return it to the point of purchase for a full refund.

Coles is said to be working with the manufacturer to understand how the undeclared allergen got into the product in the first place, and are said to be taking whatever steps are necessary to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

The cereal recall makes the second time in a week that Coles have issued a recall for undeclared tree nuts. Coles issued a recall for a Coles brand Easter Egg product which is manufactured by Heritage Chocolates last week after a child experienced a mild allergic reaction due to the presence of tree nuts.

 

AIG launches tool to estimate potential recall losses

American International Group AIG has launched NOVI, a web-based service aimed at helping companies estimate the cost of recall incidents.

Nicky Alexandru, vice president for crisis management, AIG said the tool will help food and beverage manufacturers understand their exposure to a recall event and make more informed decisions about how to manage their risk.

“While most companies are generally aware of the frequency of product recalls, they are unsure of the potential magnitude of the cost of a recall event,” Alexandru said.

The service estimates a company’s maximum recall loss in the case of an accidental contamination based on over 80 data points, as well as input from food safety consultant NSP International.

Claire Richards, crisis management manager, AIG, said there are two to three product recalls in Australia’s food and beverage industry on average each month.

“Maintaining food safety standards and managing recall risk are two pressing issues for Australian companies and, through NOVI, we can now assist companies in quantifying a potential threat to their business so that they can manage their risk more effectively,” Richards said.

“Expenses from a product contamination recall event can mount quickly. These can include replacement and destruction costs, lost profit from plant shutdowns, government intervention, loss of profits and brand and reputational damage.”

 

Coles Easter Eggs recall after undeclared tree nuts found

Undeclared tree nuts have been found in Coles Easter Eggs (12 pack in plastic egg crate with various coloured foils), leading Coles Supermarkets to issue an Australia-wide recall of the product.

The recall was issued after a child experienced a mild allergic reaction on Monday, and Coles and Anaphylaxis Australia were immediately notified.

Yesterday Coles withdrew the product from sale, and issued a tree nut alert for the batch with a best before of 31 January, 2015.

It’s not the first recall from the company responsible, Heritage chocolates.

In April 2012, Heritage recalled Heritage Belgian Milk Chocolate Egg with Exquisite Chocolate Truffles from Coles Supermarkets nationally due to undeclared almond, hazelnut and gluten allergens.

Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia has urged that the tree nut alert be shared with preschools and schools who may have purchased the product for Easter egg hunts.

 

Putting safety first in food manufacturing

Even discussing the possibility of a product recall is enough to send shivers down the spine of a food or beverage manufacturer.

Whether we’re talking about a small scale operation, or a highly reputable multi-national company with world class food safety procedures in place, the reality is that neither is immune to contamination scares. Only last year global food processor Fonterra embarked on a mass recall due to a botulism scare, while products from Victorian dairy processor, Jindi Cheese, were responsible for the death of three people, marking nation’s largest listeria outbreak.

Even with exceptional food safety standards, there is always a slim chance that pathogens could slip through the cracks. So what are the best ways to ensure optimal protection for smaller players in the food manufacturing game and a price that is realistic?

Food Magazine recently spoke to some of the leading food safety solutions players in the business to provide us with insight into the most effective ways to ensure best practice and conduct a successful product recall.

Advanced Oxidation from Dow

Global food safety company, Dow Microbial Control launched its Advanced Oxidation System (AOS) commercially in July 2013 at the International Association of Food Protection’s (IAFP) Annual Meeting. AOS is a whole room system used by food and beverage manufacturing/processing plants to sanitize all surfaces and the air. The system uses ambient air to generate Ozone and combines it with water to create a vapor that evenly fills the entire room.

According to Dow, AOS is a fully customisable solution that is designed to complement conventional cleaning and sanitisation practices, enabling food manufacturers of varying capacities to effectively sanitize hard-to-reach problem areas including; hidden areas in equipment, drains, vents and fabrics – and is even effective in dry environments such as bakeries.

“AOS Certified is particularly effective at reducing and controlling levels of the resilient Listeria monocytogenes in high-care, ready-to-eat (RTE) and prepared-food environments, as well as in spiral freezers and chillers. The technology is also very effective against Escherichia coli, and Salmonella, and against other bacteria, viruses, yeasts and molds,” Dow told Food magazine.

“The technology also runs automatically without relying on workers to do the sanitization so extra manpower isn’t required. The sanitizing agent is produced on demand using just air and water, so manufacturers also don’t have the burden of shipping and storing chemicals.”

The system took Dow over 12 months of intense R&D engineering collaboration to create, and in addition to excellence in sanitation, AOS also offers impressive sustainability credentials.

“Dow Microbial Control is fearlessly committed to revolutionizing how the world approaches microbial control and AOS technology is a chief example of our commitment to sustainable solutions.

“AOS uses ambient air and water to generate a non-condensing humid ozone atmosphere, which produces one of the fastest and most effective penetrative whole room sanitizers. Additionally, AOS does not involve the handling, storage or transport of harsh chemicals, nor does it leave any chemical residues.”

Extending food safety to the ingredients

Earlee Products has taken a slightly different approach to food safety by developing food ingredients that enhance the food safety of processed meat products against pathogens, particularly listeria monocytogenes.

“We saw an opportunity to develop some food ingredients that enhanced the food safety of processed meat products particularly against listeria monocytogenes; the scourge of ready to eat sliced modified-atmosphere meats,” Bob Hamilton, managing director of Earlee Products told Food Magazine.

“Good manufacturing practice is still important, but bacteria is so ubiquitous in plants that once it is there it is hard to get rid of.”

Hamilton says Earlee’s products which consist of ready to use liquids, starches and edible oil lubricants, provide a natural alternative to pathogen control and can be integrated into existing processes or as a decontamination dip for the finished product prior to slicing.

“The ingredients are bactericidal to listeria, staphylococcus aureus and E. coli. So whilst they are food ingredients, they promote food safety by eliminating potently fatal pathogens. The dip can also be sprayed on processing equipment such as slicers and dicers.”

Take the guesswork out of the recall process

In addition to employing exceptional food safety standards within the food manufacturing process, effective recall systems are also essential to have in place.

GS1 and SICK both offer comprehensive traceability solutions for both small scale and industrial sized food and beverage manufacturers.

Richard Jones, general manager quality services at GS1 talked Food magazine through the GS1 Global Traceability Standard.

According to Jones, the standard is inclusive of a number of key pillars including:

  • Global Location Number (GLN) – a unique identifier of any player in the supply chain
  • Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) – a unique identifier of a traded unit
  • Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC) – uniquely identifies shipments of good

The GS1 Traceability Standard also utilises GS1 Bar Codes – Point-of-Sale (POS), Global Data Synchronisation (GDSN), or its local incarnation GS1net, to share master data between trading partners prior to conducting a transaction in addition to Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) – for conducting electronic transactions.

Jones says that the implementation of an effective recall system such as the GS1 Traceability Standard offers significant benefits to food manufacturers of any size.

“The first benefit is that it is based on standards businesses are already using to meet trading partner requirements. Therefore, no action is required to assign product identification or bar coding as the foundational elements of the system are already in place with GS1 standards.

“Secondly, communication of this information between SMEs and their trading partners means that, in the event of a recall, products and raw material components can be easily identified and dealt with according to the risk. Studies have shown that a large part of the delay in product recalls is due to a lack of consistency in product identification between trading partners. So when a supplier identifies an issue with an item and communicates if to their customer, they may identify it by a different code that needs some form of translation before it can be dealt with appropriately. Multiply this each time an item changes hands and delays can drag on for considerable periods.

“Lastly, they meet all of their internal traceability needs using the same tools that interface with their customers.”

By not employing effective traceability systems, Jones says that suppliers risk far more than a haphazard attempt at recalling product should the unthinkable occur.

“First is the legislative requirement to have traceability in event of a recall and be able to meet regulatory demands to demonstrate capability. In Australia, there is a base level of regulatory oversight whereas in Europe and the US stringent legislation exists that is quite prescriptive in how a manufacturer must apply solutions to meet these requirements.

“In addition, there is a reputational risk. Most customers acknowledge that mistakes will happen from time-to-time. But when a product recall event occurs, customers are looking for quick and decisive action. This is how manufacturers will be judged by consumers moving forward.

“If you do not have the information you need to effect a speedy and efficient recall this can be seen as more devastating to your reputation than allowing the original mistake to occur in the first place. A solid traceability system will allow you to have that information at your fingertips so that you can alert your customers and fellow supply chain partners in a timely manner, meeting the approval of all concerned – including the regulator.”

German sensor system company SICK are also in the business of recall systems. Food magazine recently spoke to SICK about why recall radio-frequency identification (RFID) solutions are an essential component to many food safety programs around the globe.

SICK say that effective traceability and code checking at each and every stage of the production and logistics process is not just desirable, it's essential.

“In terms of final inventory, the numbers in FMCG and food are staggering. One of the Australia’s major grocery players accepts 10,000 pallets of goods a day at distribution centres across the nation – that’s over 3.6 million pallets a year; each stacked two metres high with multiple products, all needing to be individually identified. A 1% inaccuracy or no read rate using traditional bar code label technology would mean breaking down over 36,000 pallets per year for manual handling and double-checking,” Sean Carter, product manager identification and measurement told Food magazine.

“Considering these sorts of numbers, and that the onus is completely on the supplier, the need for error-free tracking and code checking is pretty clear.”

Carter points out that in addition to inventory issues, the potential for error also abounds in food processing.

“Inaccurate labelling can easily lead to supply of the unsuitable product and make tracing incredibly difficult. In the worst case, a failure in process can result in contaminated product reaching the consumer, conceivably creating wide-spread food borne illness and even death,” he said.

SICK’s RDIF technology systems fall into two distinct types based on the technology that under pins them.

  • High frequency 13.56 MHz inductive coupling systems (HF) that are used in near field applications usually <30 cm. They are not affected by the presence of water or metallic objects and there is a large range of transponders and tags for all sorts of applications.
  • The other system that is available is ultra-high frequency 860-960 MHz capacitive coupling systems (UHF). These are typically used in longer range applications >30cm and the unique item identifier (UII) of the tag is programmable.
     

A number of high profile food and beverage manufacturers currently employ SICK’s RFID solutions including Fonterra New Zealand, however SICK say that although the technology is highly sophisticated it is also within the reach of smaller to medium sized manufacturers.

“RFID is very affordable. The transponders (or tags) come in many different shapes and sizes to suit almost every conceivable application. Additionally the cost of the tags has reduced to the point where most are now considered to be disposable,” said Carter.

No matter what sized business you are running, SICK say that food safety is not something that a manufacturer can afford to compromise on.

“If the cost of a complete solution with multiple interrogators at first appears expensive, food and beverage manufacturers should probably ask themselves whether they can afford not to have an effective track and trace system that minimises the chance of process errors and maximises the chance of tracking them when they occur.”
 

8.7m pounds of ‘diseased and unsound’ meat recalled in the US

US authorities have ordered the recall of some 8.7 million pounds of meat from ‘diseased and unsound’ animals from Northern Californian meat processor, Rancho Feeding Corporation.

The US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) ordered the recall as it found the company to be processing diseased and unhealthy animals without a full federal inspection, CNN reports.

The US Department stated that Rancho Feeding Corporation had "processed diseased and unsound animals” and had engaged in these activities “without the benefit or full benefit of federal inspection."

"Thus, the products are adulterated,” said the FSIS. “…They are unsound, unwholesome or otherwise are unfit for human food and must be removed from commerce."

The FSIS stressed that although no illnesses have been reported at this stage from the consumption of the meat – which has already reached retailers in Florida, Illinois, Texas and California – it noted that the products had the potential to cause ‘serious, adverse health consequences or death.”

The recall marks the second time this year that the FSIS has ordered the Rancho Feeding Corporation to take its products off the shelves. Just last month, the company was ordered to recall 40,000 pounds of meat products that were deemed unfit for human consumption, as those products also did not undergo a full inspection by the authority.

 

Three Ashgrove Cheese products recalled

Tasmanian based cheese manufacturer, Ashgrove Cheese has recalled three of its hard cheese varieties after they were found to be contaminated with Listeria. 

Pregnant women, the elderly and people with poor immune systems in particular are advised to avoid contact with the cheeses as they are most susceptible to symptoms caused by Listeria contaminated foods. 

The recall applies to:

  • Ashgrove Tasmanian Farm Cheese 250g – Wine Lovers five pack selection, with best before dates of 7/7/14 and 23/6/14
  • Ashgrove Tasmanian Farm Cheese 150g – Picnic Pack three pack selection, with a best before date of 23/6/14
  • Ashgrove Tasmanian Farm Bush Pepper Cheese 50g, with a best before date of 30/6/13
  • Emporium Selection Pepper Cheese 170g, with best before dates of 14/7/14 and 3/8/14

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) advises that consumers refrain from eating the products and return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

The Ashgrove Tasmanian Farm Cheese products were sold in independent supermarkets in Tasmania and Victoria, meanwhile the Emporium Selection Pepper Cheese was available for purchase at Aldi stores in Queensland, New South Wales, the ACT and Victoria.

 

Fonterra confirms E. Coli contamination

Fonterra is conducting a voluntary recall of its 300ml and 500ml Anchor and Pams fresh cream, with tests showing E.Coli may be present.

The recall affects 8,700 bottles of fresh cream with a best-before date of 21 January, 2014, distributed in New Zealand’s North Island from Northland to Turangi, including Gisborne.

The cream has been distributed to retail and foodservice outlets, Fonterra said in a statement, which urged consumers not to consume the product and to return it to its place of purchase for a full refund.

Fonterra Brands NZ managing director, Peter McClure, said “We are sorry for the inconvenience and concern this recall might cause but food safety and quality are our top priorities.”

According to stuff.co.nz, a Fonterra spokesman said the contamination had been traced to Fonterra's processing facility at Takanini in Auckland, adding that it’s unlikely the contamination came in milk.

The recall comes just months after another contamination scare at Fonterra, which saw widespread recalls of Danone’s Karicare infant formula product. In August 20113 Fonterra issued a warning that the whey protein in the formula could contain a bacterium known to cause botulism.

Thirty-eight tonnes of the protein were believed to have been contaminated by an unsanitary pipe, however it was later uncovered that the bacteria wasn’t clostridium botulinum as originally thought, but was identified as clostridium sporogenes, which doesn’t lead to any known food safety issue.

Danone has now launched legal proceedings against Fonterra.
 

Pesticide food contamination strikes 300 in Tokyo

More than 300 people have fallen ill in Tokyo, Japan, with Maruha Nichiro Holdings, the country’s largest seafood company, at the centre of a food poisoning scandal.

Police have launched an investigation into the company after it was revealed last month that some frozen food products had been contaminated with an agricultural chemical called malathion.

Local media have said police believe the pesticide was mixed into products at the Gunma plant north of Tokyo, which manufactures frozen foods like pizzas and lasagnes.

According to SMH, consumers have reported symptoms including vomiting, diarrhoea and other symptoms of food poisoning, and the Maruha Nichiro has received about 460,000 phone calls from consumers about the poisoning and has so far recovered about 1.2 million out of the 6.4 million packages it aims to recall.

The company said that none of the affected products have been shipped overseas.

 

Fonterra’s contamination scare report due out in two weeks

The first report from a recent inquiry into dairy processing giant Fonterra’s whey contamination scare is expected to be released within the next two weeks.

The report consists of three sections, the first two, which should be released in the next fortnight, address New Zealand’s regulatory and best practice requirements for dairy food safety, while the third section – which assesses how the potentially contaminated product entered the New Zealand and international markets – will be finalised once the Ministry for Primary Industries completes its compliance investigation.

The Mercury reports that New Zealand’s Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye have said that they have received the report and will consider its recommendations. 

It is believed that the contamination scare was caused by an unsanitary pipe at the company’s Hautapu plant in May 2012.

The company feared that the whey protein concentrate could contain a bacterium that can cause botulism – a potentially fatal paralytic illness. However, further testing revealed that the bacterium was not actually present, and that there was no health risk.

The false alarm resulted in widespread recalls 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.

 

Dip recalled due to listeria contamination

Yumis Quality Foods has recalled its Mediterranean style Deli Originals Spinach Dip from Aldi Stores due to Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

Dips with a use by date of 22/01/14 have been recalled from Aldi stores in NSW, Queensland, ACT and Victoria and consumers who have bought the product are encouraged not to consume it, and to return it to its place of purchase for a full refund.

The product is believed to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, which can cause illness in pregnant women and their unborn babies, the elderly and people with low immune systems.

 

Lion recalls coffee drink due to spontaneous bottle breakages

Lion has recalled its Dare Cold Pressed Iced Coffee beverages from Coles, Woolworths and convenience stores in NSW due to the potential for spontaneous breakage of the bottle.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand's website claims that if the product is left unrefrigerated, the bottle may burst.

Consumers are encouraged to not drink the product, and to return it to its place of purchase.

 

Inquiry into Fonterra’s contamination scare finds shortcomings

An independent inquiry into Fonterra’s whey contamination scare has made 33 recommendations to address the issues that led to the false alarm which resulted in the recalling of 38 tonnes of whey protein.

It was believed that an unsanitary pipe at the company’s Hautapu plant in May 2012 was the cause of the contamination scare. The company feared that the whey protein concentrate could contain a bacterium that can cause botulism – a potentially fatal paralytic illness. However, further testing revealed that the bacterium was not actually present, and that there was no health risk.

The inquiry found problems with tracing potentially contaminated product and belated escalation of the issue, The Mercury reports.  

Team leader of the inquiry, Jack Hodder QC said that the inquiry uncovered a number of operational shortcomings.

“There were shortcomings in a number of areas, which, compounded by a number of events and co-incidences, converged to create this significant issue,” said Hodder.

Significant findings in the inquiry included:

  • Insufficient senior oversight of testing for Clostridium botulinum
  • Clostridium botulinum testing framework inadequate
  • Inability to promptly track affected batches
  • Delay in recognising the reputational risk to Fonterra of the scare
  • crisis management planning and external communications lacking
  • Cleaning regimes at some Fonterra plants needed improvement.

The report recommended a review of Fonterra’s food quality and safety was in order in addition to the establishment of an incident management team and a new board risk committee as well as amended plant cleaning processes.

"Much of the recommended change is already under way, or has already been identified as needing to be changed," said Fonterra’s chairman, John Wilson.

"We are committed to adopting a 'best of class' philosophy around food safety and incorporating the latest, world class methods into every facet of our operations."

 

Clover an innocent victim of Fonterra’s contamination scandal

Despite being an innocent bystander, Clover's sales have taken a hit thanks to Fonterra's recent food safety scare, which saw widespread recalls of infant formula products.

Functional ingredient manufacturer, Clover says the company has been "adversely affected" by the contamination scare, and expects sales revenue in the first half of the financial year 2014 to be approximately 20 percent lower than the same period last year.

"As a consequence of extensive media coverage precautionary product recalls in several countries, including New Zealand and China, the heightened concern about the safety of infant formula has resulted in a decline in imported infant formula sales in some markets," a Clover statement reads.

"Clover has a diversified sales strategy and supplies specialised encapsulated liquid ingredients to both local and international infant formula manufacturing companies. As a result of these market events, however, demand for Clover's ingredients has been adversely affected and as expected, sales have declined."

Earlier this month, Danone, the manufacturer of Karicare infant formula products, announced it's seeking full compensation from Fonterra for damages caused by the product recalls.

Thirty-eight tonnes of the whey protein concentrate, manufactured at Fonterra’s Hautapu plant in May 2012, was believed to have been contaminated by an unsanitary pipe, and the scandal, which unfolded in August, resulted in the resignation of managing director, Gary Romano, as well as two senior managers being place on leave, effective immediately.

However it was later uncovered that the bacteria found in the whey protein concentrate wasn't clostridium botulinum as originally thought, but was acutally identified as clostridium sporogenes, which doesn’t lead to any known food safety issue.

 

Fonterra in dispute resolution with Danone

Following its recent whey contamination scandal, dairy giant Fonterra has confirmed it's in a dispute resolution process with Danone.

Danone owns Nutricia, the manufacturer of the Karicare infant formula which was the subject of the  the health scare and was subject to extensive recalls in a number of countries.

A statement issued by ASX reads, "The discussions between Fonterra and Danone had been confidential with a view to reaching a mutually acceptable commercial outcome however some aspects of these discussions have been made public this morning in the press.

"Fonterra confirms that the discussions remain ongoing but strongly denies any legal liability to Danone in relation to the recall."

According to the NZ Herald, Danone institated the dispute resolution after meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key in Paris late last month to discuss Fonterra's refusal to help ease the financial damages Danone suffered as a result of the scare.

In August Fonterra issued a warning that the whey protein in its baby formula products and sports drinks may contain a bacterium that can cause botulism.

Thirty-eight tonnes of the whey protein concentrate, manufactured at Fonterra’s Hautapu plant in May 2012, was believed to have been contaminated by an unsanitary pipe, and the scandal resulted in the resignation of managing director, Gary Romano, as well as two senior managers being place on leave, effective immediately.

However it was later uncovered that the bacteria found in the whey protein concentrate wasn't clostridium botulinum as originally thought, but was acutally identified as clostridium sporogenes, which doesn’t lead to any known food safety issue.

 

Four ‘N Twenty Aussie Pasties recalled

Four ‘N Twenty Aussie Pasties have been recalled around Australia due to the presence of a foreign matter – hard plastic.

The 175g pasties are individually packaged in flo-wrap with a best before date of 07/01/15.

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) were notified of the recall on 11 September, and stated that food products containing hard plastic may cause injury if consumed.

FSANZ said that consumers should not eat this product, and return it to the place of purchase for a full refund.

The Four ‘N Twenty Aussie Pasties are sold nationally at convenience store, service stations and wholesale outlets.