Fonterra fined $255,000 over botulism scare
New Zealand’s dairy giant Fonterra has been fined $NZ300,000 ($255,000) after it admitted four food-safety violations during a 2013 botulism scare.
The scare led to a worldwide milk product recall and to several countries blocking imports of New Zealand dairy products.
Testing later found there had been no problem with Fonterra’s products.
Fonterra had faced a maximum fine of $NZ500,000 for the charges, relating to breaches of an animal products act.
It had admitted the four charges in March.
Fonterra is the world’s largest exporter of dairy products and had said it would not contest the charges.
The botulism scare related to a milk product used widely in infant formula.
The milk product, which is used by several multinational companies, was suspected of containing a bacteria that could cause botulism which is a severe form of food poisoning.
Fonterra was sentenced by Judge Peter Hobbs in a district court in Wellington, New Zealand, on Friday.
“New Zealand’s reputation for high-quality dairy products was shaken,” Australia’s Fairfax News reported Judge Peter Hobbs saying on Friday.
Judge Peter Hobbs said he accepted that the scare resulted from carelessness and failure to follow procedure, rather than any deliberate action, but said Fonterra could and should have done better.
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