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Botulism scare products

Written By: - Date published: 8:48 am, August 5th, 2013 - 109 comments
Categories: health - Tags: ,

The information on which products are at risk from the Fonterra botulism scare has taken far too long to come out. Thanks 3 News for this list (so far):

Several products have been recalled in New Zealand, including two of Nutricia’s Karicare formulas. … “None of the products tested and sold in New Zealand indicate any contaminations. However, given the new information supplied by Fonterra, we have taken the decision to make a precautionary recall on specific products.” Nutricia says consumers with the specified batch numbers should not feed their babies with the products. If infants show any signs of illness they should be seen by a doctor as a “precautionary measure”.

Products recalled in NZ:

Karicare Infant Formula Stage 1 (0-6 months) with batch numbers 3169 and 3170
Karicare Gold+ Follow On Formula Stage 2 (6-12 months) with batch number D3183
Small amounts of NZAgbiz calf milk replacer – not made for human consumption – sold in the North Island

Products deemed safe:

UHT, yoghurt and soft drinks produced by Wahaha, Coca-Cola and Vitaco.

Update: All batch numbers are to be avoided, see comments.

109 comments on “Botulism scare products ”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    A total bungle of the basics of corporate PR. Can’t understand what the hell corporate head office was thinking. But it looks incompetent.

    • Sanctuary 1.1

      They seem to spend most of their time trying to scheme up ways to privatise the business by stealth, rather than focusing on what matters.

      • Tim 1.1.1

        That’s an interesting and salient comment Sanctuary – I think it was Hooten on “from the Right & from the Right” this morning who even pointed out just what a bugger’s muddle Fonterra is/has become.
        It seems its board/administration has been more preoccupied in recent times with dreaming up ways of destroying a functioning co-operative in order to allow cronies to get a slice of the cake, rather than representing farmers’ best interests (and NZ’s interests at that). The whole scheme of share trading of any profit gained by a farmer, the listing on the Stock Exchange et al seems to have guzumped what cudda shudda wudda have been a long term, respected, trusted NZ Co-op based on nothing other than ideology and greed!.

        I find it really difficult to feel any sort of sympathy for the buggers other than for those farmers that have been royally conned. (Various banks having ‘MIS-sold certain options for a start! I think that Damien fella has that as one of his hobby horses). Even those farmers I know of, I have the same sort of empathy for as I do for the likes of Bruce Tichbon who tried to buy into a Sydney Harbour Bridge deal – for the second, or maybe third time with a conman.

        But even aside from that! and taking a step back …..
        Here, NZers are expected to pay international prices in that ‘global free-market’ (NOT, nor NEVER) for dairy products whilst already having paid a premium through
        – paying for the costs of the cleanup of polluted rivers and streams (which of course farmers often state they’re not responsible for – even tho’ it only started happening on implementation of their buzzniss modil)
        – subsidizing any sort of carbon tax/ETS scheme because farmers have been exempted
        – paying for various irrigation schemes that benefit dairy farming and don’t recognise that the resource is finite
        – paying for Crown-owned research nstitutes researching ways of eliminating the effects of cow burping or farting
        – conning us all by insisting they’re the backbone of the economy and TINA (well Jack – just look at us now ……
        All the while …. the rest of the world hasn’t had to pay those costs!

        Worse still when one jumps on a plane, and 3 or 4 hours later discovers NZ dairy products being sold in duopolistic supermarket outlets for LESS than they are sold in NZ.

        Well sorry chasps! More fool you for behaving like a load of entitled rich pricks (whether you are or not), void of any social responsibility or even community concern, because maybe a bank salesman has conned you, and Fonterra’s ideologically-driven management have conned you and destroyed your Co-op. Tuf cowshit!
        Don’t expect this ‘Tex payer’ to be happy with bailing you out. Sell an SUV; have a go at your Natzi mates and Fonterra management and CEO; look at ways you might further comply with some basic initiatives to protect the environment; start to understand that bigger is not always better; that there IS a difference between sustainED growth and sustainABLE growth; and a few other things before you come grovelling to Tex [payer]/citizen to bail you out.
        Oh ….. and maybe Fonterra’s CEO ….. you reckon he’ll deserve his next bonus?

        Personally, I’d recommend you’d be better off taking your Co-op back from the Cowshit Artists and telling them their management abilities and tempting schemes that have failed should come out of their over-inflated salaries. I wouldn’t try blaming MPI either. They laid it on the line early on, and your Fuckedteria management all went along (even assured everyone) that self-regulation and de-regulation was the way to go. Pike River!

        Right now, I couldn’t actually give a damn it you’re going to be up Cowshit Creek without a paddle.
        That sustained environmental scorched Earth growth you put your money on, doesn’t look quite so hot now aye!

        Cudda Shudda Wudda.

        BTW – Hoots did his best to push the agenda this morning – but, self-serving as usual. Perhaps he’s got a potential spin-meister job in mind trying to rectumfy the situation.

        • Rosetinted

          Tim You make more sense than Hoots for sure, and do more hard thinking. What about offering yourself as the left wing guy for Radionz politics time and give Mike Williams a holiday.

          • Tim

            @Rose – I couldn’t possibly. I’m hampered by the fact that I’ve had criminality amongst family members, as well as other family members being part of the “Spy” cohort. I’d be fighting to many battles on a daily basis before any MSM lazy journalist kicked their own arse enough to be able to do their job.
            Some poor bitch I’m related to actually still works for the buggers and I’m not sure whether the mortgage has been paid off yet.

            There are others more competent though than I – they express themselves in ‘spaces’ (to coin the trendy) such as “the Standard” and “The Daily Blog” … and elsewhere.

            My only hope and wish is that things don;t actually get to the point of the “Arab Spring” when the sleepy eventually wake up. They are starting to wake.
            Reminds me of that Bullshit Sky TV promo (if you’ve seen it) – promoting a programme dealing with the 4th Estate. There is Ted Turner’s ‘missus’ saying “the chips are falling”.

            They sure as hell are.

            • Rosetinted

              You’re pretty much out there. Have a good day, and may the sun shine on you etc.

              That business about waking up. I heard a story about a bloke who was an alcoholic and would go off to sleep blotto. If he was woken suddenly he would be aggressive and violent. I hope that is not the analogy for NZs future. Waking up before one goes too far into degeneration, that’s the best for us all.

              • Tim

                Tx Rose …. and you.
                Right now I’m watching Campbell Live re the Fonterra gig.

                There is some spinmeister okker all contrite and regretful.

                All I can say is FFS farmers – take back your co-operative – but as you do, and as I said above, don’t expect sympathy from me.

                ….. and IF the nuZull konomy collapses or goes through turmoil – so be it. It’s an indicator of greed in progress, and the self-regulatory/de-regulatory programme.

                Btw…. good on JC for asking the question – “was this really down to a contaminated pipe?”

                I can see a ‘rebranding’ exercise in the smelly wind.

                Whereeeeeeeeeeeee’s Johnny?

                • Arfamo

                  I watched that: it was Gary Romano, managing director of New Zealand milk products for Fonterra. Sounded like an Aussie. Christ he was awful. Campbell couldn’t get a straight answer out of him about what products should be avoided and how it all happened. It was the most inept piece of corporate PR circular bullshit I’ve seen for years. God help Fonterra if anyone from Russia or China was watching that. They’d be left with the conclusion the company’s in the hands of irresponsible fwits who’re obfuscating like crazy to cover something up.

    • i think it looks more contrived than ‘incompetent’..

      ..remember…they just had a share float..

      ..what better reason to keep quiet about a botulism-batch..?

      ..and if freedom of information requests reveal this..?..


      ..a new benchmark will be set for shit-hitting-fan..

      ..then there is the mstter of the recently departed/highly-paid-off fonterra-man..eh..?

      ..he must have known..

      ..was that a factor in his departure..?

      ..so many questions still unanswered..

      ..phillip ure..

      • Saarbo 1.2.1

        Who recently left Fonterra?

      • Colonial Viper 1.2.2

        ..remember…they just had a share float..

        ..what better reason to keep quiet about a botulism-batch..?

        Great. So Fonterra executive management has just exposed the company to massive lawsuits from new investors, by ‘not disclosing all material knowledge, information and risks pertinent to the current and future financial performance of the company’.

        First international legal action gets announced in 48 hours I reckon.

  2. Dv 2

    Apparently advice from MPI
    The correction was made on Morning report and repeated on the 9 news.
    Karicare Infant Formula Stage 1 (0-6 months)
    Karicare Gold+ Follow On Formula Stage 2 (6-12 months)

  3. vto 3

    Just gotta re-post this…

    Trusting in self-regulation / deredgulation / the interests of individualism / supply demand to ensure that surrounding sector requirements are met has been proved yet again to not work. Thanks Fonterra for exposing the failures of this aspect of neoliberal religion.

    At least with Fonterra’s failure nobody died like at Pike River…

    … oh, hang on, Fonterra’s actions did kill small children in China with its melamine….

    The policies of this national government and the attitudes and philosophies that are subsequently encouraged in private business results in

    1. 29 Men being killed at Pike River
    2. 4 men being killed in forestry so far this year.
    3. Babies being killed in China.
    4. Babies almost being killed through botched Fonterra botchulism.


    Killed people.

    That is the result.

    And yet Joyce and Key want to push the same approach onto the heaviest trucks on NZ;s roads with a form of self-regulation in vehicle safety and compliance. What is it that these people don’t get?

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 3.1

      Evidence. They don’t get evidence.

    • Rosetinted 3.2

      Wasn’t Fonterra totally non-responsible for the melamine business in China? I thought it was totally a Chinese initiative.

      It doesn’t do to throw mud around willy-nilly vto. Just coping with the factual evidence of bad practice now is bad enough without piling on other assertions with no evidence. Source for the China tale and link please.

      • vto 3.2.1

        I don’t consider it throwing mud willy-nilly. I would suggest it is the same approach that resulted in the babies being killed in China. (no time to locate and research links so feel free to discount accordingly).

        The main point stands though, as I see you have similarly posted below.

        • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell

          Pipes simply do not leak under governments who do not follow neo-liberal policies. Why, the former Soviet Union was famous for its food safety. As was the Byzantine empire, especially under Justinian the Great.

          • One Anonymous Knucklehead

            Good to know that the Byzantine empire and former Soviet Union are your benchmarks.
            That explains a lot.

            • Colonial Viper

              Don’t knock the Byzantines. Their empire lasted a long time. Far longer than our global civilisation is going to last.

              As for the USSR. Most commentators assume that the USA won the Cold War, with the collapse of the Soviet. I’m not so sure nowadays.

        • Private Baldric

          I agree with private VD.

          It is all the gentries’s faults.

        • Rosetinted

          Just stick to the facts man. Don’t diss the main business that keeps our country going and keeps you in a living. Don’t spread partly incorrect stories with a negative spin just to make your point. It is not helpful to me or you as NZ citizens for you to have rants about sensitive matters that aren’t completely true. There is plenty of rant material available about factual matters.

          • vto

            I understand your point there Rosetinted and appreciate what effects exaggerations and the like can have on a point being made and on the point-maker. Don’t see no rules against it.

            But this here …… “Don’t diss the main business that keeps our country going and keeps you in a living.”

            Horseshit. Absolute crap. Flush it down the dunny.

          • g spot

            ‘keeps the country going and keeps you in a living’
            buhahahaha… think dairy industry is mentioned to contribute 3% to nz gdp in cnn report i just watched. They mightn’t be keeping the country going much longer regardless. I don’t see any NZers enjoying the price of milk. I think Saddam even made petrol cheap in Iraq?
            You are a muppet. Not Kermit either.

      • Colonial Viper 3.2.2

        Wasn’t Fonterra totally non-responsible for the melamine business in China? I thought it was totally a Chinese initiative.

        Just like Union Carbine (USA) was totally non-responsible for the Bhopal business of Union Carbide (India). Isn’t it great to see our business people learning from the best in the corporate world.

        PS the Chinese authorities were pissed off last time around and they have long memories.

        • vto

          Yep, that’s it.

          I understood Fonterra’s ownership in the Chinese business (san lu?) was 50%. If so, then that makes it as responsible as if it was a 100% owner imo.

          • Pasupial


            Fonterra had 43% ownership in Sanlu. Though, to be fair, they had less control over the production facilities where that adulteration occurred (which was adding melamine to boost protein counts as fraud) than the NZ plant where the current bacterial contamination happened. Also it wasn’t just Sanlu; 21 other Chinese companies were then shown to be running in the same scam.

        • Tim

          Yep CV. Union C were so ‘non-responsible’ for Bhopal that their CEO, when visiting the site afterwards had to do a runner and get out of the country as quick as he could. Extradition was attempted unsuccessfully – the US wouldn’t agree.

          YET – when they get turned down for the likes of Snowden and Assange extradition – they just can’t cope and try to remember their morals.

          Maybe they should not have set the precedent.

          As we’ll soon see here in NZ (well hopefully soon *) with Key, GSB, SIS, Polis et all, what’s source for the goose is sauce for the gander. It might take just an eensy weensy bit longer (actually as long as spin-meisters are able to tell even more semi-credible bullshit and kick the can down the road a bit further), but they’re beginning to forget the bullshit they originally told, and it doesn’t tally with the latest round. It’s what happens when lying becomes pathological.

          * It may take a bit longer – I think they’ve still got a few stooges to blame. Trouble is that when the stooges begin to outnumber the operatives, they become deeply imbedded in the load of kaka they deserve.
          Hopefully the MPI stooge is off their agenda – they declared their stance early on.

          Gosh though aye! I’m frikken heartbroken! This could devstate the konmy. I jiss saw Johnky on Skoi News – he ekshly searnded drunk – it took a double pass for me to unnastan wot he wiz torkin beart.

          Anne … we even hed Camrun Begry on NinetoNoon this morning conceding we should have diversified and not relied on farting cows so much.
          (Closing down those railway workshops might not have been such a good idea for a start).

          Let her roll though – the chips are falling. Key and Joyce are spinning, Soimun Brudgizz, Nathan Ididn’tinhale Guy, Pulla Bent, HekYea Parata et al are having to learn new rimming techniques to turn their Leader on.

    • Honest Abe 3.3

      VTO sometimes it’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

  4. Lanthanide 4

    Morning Report had the same batch numbers, and corrected it within 30 minutes to say that a government department (Internal Affairs maybe? don’t recall) has advised that none of these products, regardless of batch number, should be consumed.

    Be worth editing the story with this note.

    • r0b 4.1

      Done, thanks.

      • Lanthanide 4.1.1


        Ministry of Primary Industries: http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/dairy/9001765/Threat-to-dairy-exports-widens

        MPI said two types of infant formula – Karicare Infant Formula Stage 1 for babies from birth and Karicare Stage 2 Follow-on Formula for children from six month old – should be avoided.

        Nutricia, a brand owned by food giant Danone, has previously said only certain batches should be avoided.

        Gallacher admitted parents would find the advice contradictory.

        “The Ministry for Primary Industries has not been able to fully trace and track through Nutricia’s supply chain which specific batches of its products may contain the contaminated whey protein and which do not.”

  5. Rosetinted 5

    Fonterra seems to have attended the same business management school as the Pike River coal lot. I keep thinking NZ hasn’t got a chance of surviving as a developed country going by the continual and observable mismanagement, poor financial and economic controls and stuff-ups. I want to be shown to be WRONG, WRONG. But I fear not. Enough to make a thinking person weep.

    Think of our NZ country, Aotearoa, as an infant in a big world of grown-ups that don’t care about infants, and the harm that may befall real babies from contaminated food and then the harm that will befall our little country and its population, and they are similarly alarming.

    • weka 5.1

      “and the harm that may befall real babies from contaminated food and then the harm that will befall our little country and its population, and they are similarly alarming.”

      How many recorded cases of infant botulism have there been in NZ?


      • Colonial Viper 5.1.1

        When something goes wrong and it is badly handled, a doctor’s patient doesn’t have to actually die for the community to lose trust in the doctor.

        Remember in China, babies did actually die from Fonterra (San Lu) product. And we might have only had a few mentions of that in our news media at the time, but it was headlines throughout China, and is still causing headaches for Chinese health authorities today.

        • weka

          Bad cut and pasting on my part. I was focussed on the ‘babies might die’ bit. As far as I can tell the risk is very small. I’d like to see someone who knows what they are talking about make a statement about this, and am surprised that it hasn’t been discussed yet, but honestly, leaving aside the trade issues, it’s not a good idea to misinform the public over public health issues like this, and talking about babies dying is emotive in a really unhelpful way.

          The Clostridium bacteria is common enough, botulism is pretty rare in NZ. There are reasons for that. If you promote food safety as being the preserve of big corporations (who cannot in fact ensure food safety) then you put more people at risk. Better to inform the public about good home hygiene so that they don’t create botulism (most botulism happens from food prepared at home).

          The whole thing points to the ridiculousnees of the industrial food systems we now have, and the ‘babies might die’ narratives just increase risk aversion to the point where it is non-sensical and counter-productive.

          The lack of depth information in this saga, and the willingness of people here to express strong opinions when we don’t have that information yet, is alarming.

          • Colonial Viper

            Its a weird thing risk and probabilities, as I mentioned elsewhere. You’re going to be a hundred times more likely to die on the roads than through any kind of dairy food poisoning, and no one is stressing out about driving home tonight.

          • karol

            It has actually crossed my mind that Fonterra has been targeted by some sort of “industrial sabotage”.

        • Don't worry be happy

          When babies die they leave behind a life time of heart ache for their families….

          And for those sickened by melamine, painful difficult to treat, kidney ‘stones’ made of PLASTIC, Fonterra when asked about compensating their parents, promised to build a hospital, instead.

          So how’s that going Fonterra? Should be well and truly built by now? Where is it?

          Or was that a bit of quick spin/deliberate lies to get out of a paying a fair sum to the affected families?

    • Tim 5.2

      @ Rose
      “I want to be shown to be WRONG, WRONG. But I fear not.”
      You’re right to be fearful. Unfortunately a culture has developed whereby competency is directly proportional to salary paid, such that it is assumed the higher the salary – the more competent the candidate is (and along with that …. the more trust, the more respect, the more comfortable we should feel). Trouble is that alongside that, there’s been this whole “we’re competing in a global market for CEO expertise” bullshit going on – i.e. we have to be competitive with salary to attract candidates).
      How well has that served us? Pike River? … ekshly there was a TV3 ‘operative’ from memory years ago – high order Cowshit Artist – that should have alerted us (but it didn’t)
      What’s worse is that our Public Service got corporatised and the same conditions apply. (Ekshly I alluded to rellies in a previous post – one such once told me that their primary mission was checking out the credibility of PS CEO candidates under a regime of ‘political correctness*).
      No point in fear though.
      They’re generally such utter fuckwits, incompetents and bullshit artists that they usually fuck themselves up. It’s just unfortunate that they sometimes rise to the heightened ranks they do – to the extent they jeopardise an economy.

      *The one I’m thinking of specifically had my rellie alerting his ‘whoevers’ – including his propensity to pretend to be a political supporter of the party in power, all the while leaking cabinet papers et al – plus the usual (i.e. taking all credit for the successes of his public servant underlings,
      but blaming them and shifting shit to them when things went wrong).

      Oh how I once wished for a “Funny thing happened on the way to the Forum” thread.

      Never mind. It really would have been Catholic Church stuff (and Tory Street sauna, WCC admin mafioso former head of gubbamint department/nurses uniform/leaky building/ dangly earing- wearing-bene-bashing-wholier-than-thou-attitudinal/ former Speaker-of-the-house-Wellington College student ‘tutoring’ [in what only we know] – Grass/Hay Street residing, once were Labour Party-now-no-need Oike Williams, usuers-of-trade-union-now-‘better-than-that’ stuff)

      Come to think of it though – it might have been too much like Truth newspaper – even though one of its former editors is rolling in his grave at the rise of the fascist in NZ

  6. weka 6

    What is the risk of botulism from whey protein contaminated with Clostridium?

    • northshoredoc 6.1

      Vanishingly small.

      However notification and withdrawal of all products that may potentially be affected is the correct course of action.

      • weka 6.1.1

        Thanks, that’s what I thought.

        Notification and withdrawal, isn’t that what Fonterra are doing?

        • northshoredoc

          Yes. The media do like their lead stories to be as sensational as possible however.

          Until we have more information it is difficult to comment on whether there have been unacceptable delays in notification or foreseeable/avoidable hygiene errors at the plant in question.

          I could be naughty and hazard a guess that NZ milk powder with potential clostridia contamination is probably still a safer and better product than many of the milk powders in countries around the globe…. especially in those that will act to prohibit Fonterra product.

          Certainly this incident is far less of a risk than the Chinese company that was tainting formula with melamine a couple of years back.

          • weka

            Until we have more information it is difficult to comment on whether there have been unacceptable delays in notification or foreseeable/avoidable hygiene errors at the plant in question.

            Yep. I’m not sure the MSM have even figured out what the questions are yet. I don’t see many on ts asking either.

            I could be naughty and hazard a guess that NZ milk powder with potential clostridia contamination is probably still a safer and better product than many of the milk powders in countries around the globe…. especially in those that will act to prohibit Fonterra product.


  7. Adrian 7

    Listening to Wills and Groser on Natrad this morning I could not believe how supposedly well educated 50+ year olds could speak in such convoluted contorted cliches and imbecilic jargon mixed in mangeled syntax. I would much rather listen to an 18 year old.
    It was a great example of how education standards have obviously soared in the last 30 years.

  8. Rosetinted 8

    I keep thinking NZ hasn’t got a chance of surviving as a developed country going by the continual and observable mismanagement, poor financial and economic controls and stuff-ups. I want to be shown to be WRONG, WRONG. But I fear not. Enough to make a thinking person weep.

    I’ll repeat myself as so far I have read nothing of sense and value from people who have decided comment on this thread. What I said applies even more after reading the nonsensical ideas about our produce, trade and exports that have been written so far by other commenters.

    • weka 8.1

      With Peak Oil, Climate change and the Global Financial crisis, no country will be able to survive as a ‘developed’ country, if by that you mean that we can all continue down a path of increasing growth and population using industrial/capitalist models of production. None. The things you want NZ to be better at, are completely and utterly unsustainable, both at the national and global level.

      Further, I’m not sure who you are comparing NZ to, but the US, which has a more complex and ‘advanced’ industrial food production culture than NZ routinely has food contamination. The bigger and more complex you go, the less safe the production and supply lines become.

      The current diary boom is stripping fertility from NZ soils that took tens of thousands of years to build up, and is exporting that fertility to China. At the same time, it is removing trees and using other industrial farming practices that are destroying soil resiliency, and contaminating water. It is doing all that not to grow food for NZers, but to make money. It’s all completely fucked, and it won’t last because eventually the environment will not support what we are doing, and the economics will no longer be viable as we try to prop up the farms artificially.

      • vto 8.1.1

        “The current diary boom is stripping fertility from NZ soils that took tens of thousands of years to build up, and is exporting that fertility to China. At the same time, it is removing trees and using other industrial farming practices that are destroying soil resiliency, and contaminating water. It is doing all that not to grow food for NZers, but to make money. It’s all completely fucked, and it won’t last because eventually the environment will not support what we are doing, and the economics will no longer be viable as we try to prop up the farms artificially.”

        Agree weka. NZ’s forests and land sat pretty much undrained for thousands and thousands of years – forever in fact. It is one of the reasons these first few farming generations are able to produce so much from our soil – because it hasn’t been drained before.

        But draining it is what these first few generations are doing.

        Short term thinking for short term gain. NZ farms will end up as drained as those parts of the world that have been farmed for millennia – check out Europe’s fertility.

      • Colonial Viper 8.1.2

        The current diary boom is stripping fertility from NZ soils that took tens of thousands of years to build up, and is exporting that fertility to China.

        You got it in one.

        The worst part is, we are exporting our real resources, energy and effort, in exchange for electronically magicked-up increments in online bank account numbers. It’s a mad system.

  9. Pasupial 9

    “[Fonterra] could not say how much of the 38 tonnes of potentially contaminated whey protein had been consumed.

    On Wednesday, test results indicated the potential presence of bacteria in a product sample, but the firm first identified a possible ”quality issue” in March. ”


    14 months after the contamination incident, knowing of a possible issue since March, the testing protocol employed still allowed the potentially contaminated product to be distributed in this country for a month. This is inadequate!

    “…Karicare Infant Formula Stage 1… was on sale from July 2, and Karicare Gold+ Follow On Stage 2, on shelves from July 18. “

    • Saarbo 9.1

      Yes. So had Fonterra done a recall in March, product would not have even hit the Consumer shelves (for the NZ customer)…I wonder why this didn’t happen. And why did a batch that was produced in May 2012 take until March 2013 to discover it was contaminated? Seems bizarre. And given the contamination was discovered in March, how did they know it was isolated to one 38 tonne batch. And given the contamination was discovered in March, how did Fonterra determine that the problem was caused by a particular pipe. Lots of questions here…

      • Colonial Viper 9.1.1

        So had Fonterra done a recall in March, product would not have even hit the Consumer shelves (for the NZ customer)…I wonder why this didn’t happen.

        It would have spooked investors in Fonterra’s share offer this year, and potentially cost them a hundred million dollars.

        From the timing, it appears that Fonterra decided to prioritise obtaining maximum money from investors, ahead of making a consumer safety announcement which may have put investors off buying shares.

        This thing is going to bite them in the ass big time.


        • Saarbo

          Yes CV, that provides a plausible explanation, incredibly unethical but plausible. Watch this space.

          • Saarbo


            This from The Herald tries to explain why there was such a delay. It will be interesting to know if other Dairy manufacturers test for clostridium botulinum, as Professor Brooks from AUT seems to think this testing is rare. If this is the case, then Fonterra may be able to claim some high ground. But given the time delay in confirming, if the manufactured product does cause botulism, then consumers will probably die before it is discovered.

            • Colonial Viper

              But there wasn’t really any explanation was there? The material was manufactured in May 2012, a bacterial contamination detected in March 2013, and the particular bug fully typed in July 2013. Nothing new there, and still plenty of questions. Especially that food microbiologist saying that modern methods should have identified the specific bacteria far faster (I am thinking a couple of weeks, max).

              The biggest thing Fonterra had going on in 1H 2013: maximising the value it got for its share float.

  10. Rosetinted 10

    What a strange business world we operate in. There is a good side to the bad from this great error on Fonterra’s part, as our other exporters gain a price advantage.

    Because our golden rise in dairy products has halted, our exchange rate has gone down which means that exporters who have already sold product, will receive more dollars at home. And if trying to obtain orders, can offer at a lower price because of the increased NZ dollar effect. So instead of, for example, item A selling at 88 cents in foreign currency for a return of $NZ1, now it can be sold at around 75 cents, for $NZ1.

  11. infused 11

    Whatever way you cut it, it’s bad.

  12. amirite 12

    I’m wearing my tinfoil hat now and I’m thinking – how convenient, this scandal with Fonterra right at the time when the PM got himself and his office in a major pickle.

    • weka 12.1

      That’s some pretty incredible foresight on the part of the team NACT.

    • infused 12.2

      How is this good for the govt?

      • Rosetinted 12.2.1

        It deflects attention. Isn’t that obvious to you? If not, why?

        • infused

          deflects attention to a massive fuckup which doesn’t do anything good for govt?

          Yeah ok… better go stock up on the tinfoil.

          • Rosetinted

            I don’t think you have the right sort of mind to understand politics. Better to go and do something that is straightforward and requires linear thinking.

            Simply, it is a case that Fonterra gerfuffle is better for Key because he can blame someone else and the attention deflects off the murky shoup that he is stirring in the Beehive. He has to realise that he is never going to get his own chef spot on TV and do something useful with his life.

  13. captain hook 13

    how do you like my tie?
    hooton got some of it right.
    fonterra needs a culture revitalisation!
    too many tight underpants there at the moment.

  14. Treetop 14

    This is economically serious for the country and the potential for botulism being lethal to a baby/toddler/child, in particular when their immune systen is weakened or compromised.

    I am waiting to see if the stage 3 Karicare will be withdrawn. I recently brought a tin.

    For Fonterra to have known for over a year and to not have acted this has to be investigated.

    There are a number of Nutricia Karicare products and there appears to be a lot of information as to which product is best for each age of feeding.


    • Treetop 14.1

      Correction batch was produced in May 2012 and a potential problem was known in March 2013.

      • amirite 14.1.1

        So they’ve been keeping quiet on this for several months now? Why?

        • Treetop

          I heard 13.5 billion in exports is dairy and about 3.5 billion goes to China. With the recent meat export botch up to China and the time it took to get the paper work done possibly the meat would have been rejected were there also a whey/dairy problem.

          Other reasons see:
          Rosetinted @ 5 (incompetent management)
          CV@ 9.1.1 (Fonterra shares taking a dive)

          May be Key could get the GCSB onto finding out why no action was taken in March 2013!

          When it comes to the Crafar farm deal some of the farms were sold to China so that milk formula could be produced here by the Chinese to be exported to China. A similar problem could occur with contamination and this would also give NZ dairy a bad name.

          The whey (Karicare 1 and 2) was produced here, then it went to Australia for processing and then it came back for exporting as milk formula.

          Did anyone else hear this on morning report this morning?

          Did the Australians do any testing for contamination?

          • Rosetinted

            Not unless they were asked. But I heard this morning that Oz was affected by the alert action as well.

            Also I heard, while we are mentioning about meat export botch up, that there was $1 million of it in China at one time waiting to be dealt with.

            I have also heard that Telecom and Vodafone? have a dedicated civil servant in Moby.
            If true, how come we can have that and not someone who babysits each of our important export markets as their only job?

            The trouble is that NZ can get in amongst the big boys, and then we think we’ve got it made and we’re accepted in the big league, and if we really aren’t we can bluster away to the people for domestic political advantage, and say something different when the pollies go overseas.

        • weka

          The way I read it yesterday was that it took time to test the contamination down to the specific strains of Clostridium that can cause botulism in humans (not all do). Whether that is true, and whether it is reasonable to take that long to discern the strains, I don’t know.

  15. Rosetinted 15

    Saw that it also has affected a small amount of calf feed. All our young ones using it are potentially affected.

  16. I agree with Matthew 16

    Probably not good idea to drink the milk of another species, unless absolutely necessary.
    Human milk is always best for humans, funny that.

    • Pasupial 16.1


      Neither funny nor accurate.

      What is funny is the image of a 30yr old man [may not be accurate depiction] suckling dementedly while cackling: “Human milk is always best for humans”.

    • Colonial Viper 16.2


    • weka 16.3

      “Probably not good idea to drink the milk of another species,”

      Why not?

      • Colonial Viper 16.3.1

        Not very good for you. As evidenced by the shitloads of people who find dairy derived products toxic to their bodies.

        • RedLogix

          Agreed CV. Haven’t touched the stuff in three years now. Never looking back.

          While I’m sure we can tolerate cows milk to some degree (which varies widely among the population) … equally a lot of people simply function better to some degree without it.

          Generally it’s ok if it’s really well fermented or turned into a good cheese … but otherwise I’m happier without.

        • weka

          “As evidenced by the shitloads of people who find dairy derived products toxic to their bodies.”

          But not as evidenced by the shitloads of people who find that raw, organic dairy, esp fermented, isn’t toxic to their bodies and the people who find that eating raw, organic, fermented diary removes health problems.

          Then there are the traditional cultures where (raw, organic) milk is a staple that have much better health outcomes than we do.

          By all means avoid milk if it doesn’t work for you, but don’t condemn all dairy because of the experience of part of the population. Some people do very well on dairy.

          • Colonial Viper

            I can’t argue against the position that for some people, dairy is great for them. But it’s not most people, by a long shot.

            Raw organic fermented dairy is a different issue again, as its already partially digested and has a much lower proportion of lactose. But what you are talking about is a tiny miniscule fraction of 1% of the dairy which is produced and consumed in NZ.

            Young children almost universally produce lactase and can digest the lactose in their mother’s milk. But as they mature, most switch off the lactase gene. Only 35% of the human population can digest lactose beyond the age of about seven or eight (ref. 2). “If you’re lactose intolerant and you drink half a pint of milk, you’re going to be really ill. Explosive diarrhoea — dysentery essentially,” says Oliver Craig, an archaeologist at the University of York, UK. “I’m not saying it’s lethal, but it’s quite unpleasant.”


            • weka

              You are essentially saying that industrially produce milk is bad for many people, which I agree with but I think it’s better to be specific about that rather than condemning dairy as a class of food (which is what the original comment was). Many people who can’t tolerate cow’s milk do ok on goats milk too btw.

              “Only 35% of the human population can digest lactose beyond the age of about seven or eight”

              Globally that might be true, but I doubt it is true in NZ.

              • Colonial Viper

                You’re painfully fair minded weka.

                Admittedly I didn’t feel like making an exception for the <1% of NZ dairy consumption which is high grade organic and unprocessed, and tomorrow I still might not.

                BTW if you are not of European decent the chances that you are lactose tolerant completely nosedive.

    • karol 16.4

      Actually the issue is more about whether young children are best breast fed or fed infant formula which uses powdered milk.

      The wikip link above shows there tends to be more use of infant formula by parents/children of lower socio-economic backgrounds. I also seem to remember something I read years ago about how milk companies in relatively wealthy countries actively promote powdered milk for babies in poorer countries, as a way to increase their market reach and profits.

      it was probably something like this article from 2007:

      It was in 1977 that campaigners first called for a boycott of Nestlé because of its aggressive marketing of formula milk in the developing world. Thirty years on, have Nestlé and the other baby-milk firms cleaned up their act? Joanna Moorhead travels to Bangladesh to find out
      According to Save the Children’s report, infant mortality in Bangladesh alone could be cut by almost a third – saving the lives of 314 children every day – if breastfeeding rates were improved. Globally, the organisation believes, 3,800 lives could be saved each day. Given that world leaders are committed to cutting infant mortality by two thirds by 2015 as one of the Millennium Development Goals, protecting and promoting breastfeeding is almost certainly the biggest single thing that could be done to better child survival rates.

      But the formula companies, despite the international code, continue to undermine campaigners’ efforts. Throughout the west as well as in the developing world, the amounts spent on “breast is best” campaigns are dwarfed by the amounts food manufacturers spend on promoting their products: in the UK, for example, Save the Children reckons that for every £1 spent in 2006-7 on breastfeeding promotion, £10 was spent by manufacturers on advertising and promoting baby milk and foods.

  17. Pasupial 17

    At least one maternity ward uses Karicare products for neonates while waiting for maternal lactation to establish. Did they purchase any of this potentially contaminated Karicare Infant Formula Stage 1 in the period from 2/7 to 3/8? Did any other maternity ward in NZ?

    Fortunately my basupial wasn’t administered formula by the lactation consultants in the month of July, nor has he had that brand since he was a week old. But the thought was bad enough on Saturday that I might have been inadvertantly poisoning my child. It must be worse for those who don’t know yet… Best Wishes to them.

    • weka 17.1

      What is the risk of getting botulism from whey protein with the Clostridium bacteria in it?

      • Colonial Viper 17.1.1

        Well we do know that humans are useless at rationally evaluating possibilities. But in this case there is real uncertainty and fear (terror?) involved.

      • Pasupial 17.1.2

        @ Weka

        The risk of contracting botulism is greater for these Karicare products than for those testing negative for Clostridium Botulinum contamination.

        Not even Fonterra is suggesting that they should knowingly sell contaminated milk. My main problem is with the length of time it has taken to test the product, and Fonterra being unwilling to disrupt their supply chain soon enough to prevent the products reaching the shelves.

        Just because no one is dead yet (or on breathing machines for a month if they get to a hospital in time), doesn’t mean there is no problem.

        • weka

          I’m not suggesting that the milk not be recalled. I’m saying if you are fearful then educate yourself about the actual risk. Knowledge is power. Scaremongering by the MSM isn’t.

          I haven’t read the news today. Is anyone looking at what the actual risk is yet?

    • Rosetinted 17.2

      It used to be thought that newborns should just suck on water till the mother’s milk settled down. Mixing formula was frowned on. Now do they keep the mothers in hospital long enough to ensure all is well? It can be quite difficult getting a routine going.

  18. BLiP 18

    I blame John Key for all this, of course.

    • GregJ 18.1

      Well it would be nice for him to take the f&*king blame for something – there is plenty he is actually responsible for that he is happy to palm off to someone (everyone?) else. 😡

      • BLiP 18.1.1

        Well, he is responsible for the mess in some regards. It was his personna which ushered in the “Brighter Future” for New Zealand. At last we were to become that shareholding, capitalist-lovin’, eager participant in the ashpuhrational NZ Inc. No need for expensive public servants, we all care about each other’s safety, don’t want any red tape controls interfering with getting the job done. “What ever it takes” was John Key’s message. New Zealanders’ attention was then herded towards an imaginary mineral bonanza and booming stockmarket which would become the financial transactions ticket-collector and information-storage hub of the Pacific. Yippeee.

        As part of sparking up the stockmarket, John Key starts looking around for some assets to flog off. The one his international mates want the most is Fonterra but its being run like some sort of Marxist commune. “I know,” says Financial Whizz Kid John Key, “lets pretend that by giving away a piece of future profits farmer’s get to keep the obviously idiotic form of governance and ownership?” “Great,” say the bankers, “make it so”. And thus Fonterra swaggers into the New Zealand Stock Market Casino . . . ooops. Kinda reminds me of John Key’s plan to sell state asssets to the “mums and dads”.

        • GregJ

          Yep – my father (now retired) and my brother are dairy (factory) workers – don’t even get them started on the “privitisation” of Fonterra and (some) farmers’ short-sightedness on the issue. Haven’t touched base with them yet about the current crisis – although my brother works at Waitoa rather than Hautapu I’m sure he’ll have some tales to tell!

    • infused 18.2

      of course you would. I would be worried if you didn’t.

  19. swan 19

    I think there is a lot of dust to settle yet before we can say one way or the other what damage this might have caused. Time will tell, but there is certainly a lot of jumping to conclusions going on.

    • GregJ 19.1

      I live in the Middle East – a lot of NZ milk products sold here and already locals whom I work with are telling me they are avoiding NZ dairy products. If it drags on new habits are formed and brand loyalty forgotten – plenty of competition here from European, Chinese/Asian & South American producers.

  20. RedLogix 20

    If the root cause is what I think it is (a faulty CIP circuit or logic) …then all I can say is that Fonterra have had this coming for some years. Lots of very good and capable people work for the NZ Dairy Industry, but they’ve been spread too thin. And as a result there were lots of unmanaged risks.

    Yet the stupid part is that for the most part the industry in this country is still WAY better than it is in most of the rest of the world. They do not measure nor report their product failures to anything like the standard we generally do.

    • vto 20.1

      RL… “Yet the stupid part is that for the most part the industry in this country is still WAY better than it is in most of the rest of the world. They do not measure nor report their product failures to anything like the standard we generally do.”

      Why is it that we in NZ think our shit don’t stink? Or that we think we have the best farmers in the world? The best scientists in the world? The least corruption? The best democratic system? The cleanest rivers? The best fishing?

      The bit you have stated there RL……. pardon me if I don’t believe it.

      Most of the other similar kiwi myths are steadily collapsing under their own rust ……..

  21. Rich 21

    “how can u tell ur baby has bees affected by botulism? ”

    They twitch, turn blue and die.

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