Top NZ officer seeks to ease Fonterra scare in China

Updated: 2013-09-02 13:45


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WELLINGTON -- The most senior public servant in New Zealand's Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), the government agency responsible for food safety and agricultural produce, will go to China to try to mitigate the damage from the Fonterra botulism scare.

Radio New Zealand reported Monday that MPI acting director-general Scott Gallacher would travel to China in the next two weeks to meet counterparts there, but he had not discussed joining Fonterra's directors and chief executive, who will also go to China this month.

The ministry announced last week that no clostridium botulinum -- the botulism-causing bacterium -- had been found in whey protein concentrate manufactured by Fonterra and that the contamination alert had been a false alarm.

However, there have been growing calls in New Zealand for the government to send officials to China to assure consumers that dairy products exported there are safe.

Fonterra announced on Friday that chairman John Wilson and chief executive Theo Spierings would lead a board of directors visit to China on a trust and confidence-building mission this week.