Danone-owned Nutricia has rubbished reports that it is considering legal action against Fonterra over the false whey protein concentrate (WPC) botulism alarm that led it to recall 67,000 units of Karicare infant formula in New Zealand.
Following a press conference headed Nutricia ANZ general manager, Corine Tap, a number of media outlets including Reuters reported earlier today that Nutricia is “considering legal action” against Fonterra. When asked whether Nutricia would take legal action against Fonterra and the New Zealand laboratory that performed the incorrect tests, Tap told reporters: "We are considering our legal position."
Speaking with DairyReporter.com earlier today, a spokesperson for Nutricia branded the headlines a classic case of “misreporting.”
“That was misreported by Reuters,” the spokesperson said.
“Nutricia is currently considering its options, but there are no plans to sue Fonterra.”
It remains unclear, however, whether Nutricia will continue its current supply agreement with Fonterra.
“We are not looking at anyone else at the moment; Nutricia is just considering its options," the spokesperson added.
“Never a food safety risk”
Nutricia was forced to recall around 67,000 units of Karicare products earlier this month, after Fonterra issued a warning to eight customers that three batches of WPC potentially contaminated with botulism-causing Clostridium botulinum may have entered the supply chain.
Despite no evidence that its products were tainted, Nutricia initiated a precautionary recall of 900g tins of Karicare Infant Formula and Karicare Gold+ Follow-On Formula with production dates between 21 May 2013 and 2 August 2013 in New Zealand.
Yesterday, the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) received confirmation that the bacteria found in the three batches of Fonterra WPC was not Clostridium botulinum, but Clostridium sporogenes – a bacterium associated with no known food safety issues.
Earlier today, the MPI said “that on the basis of information to hand, there was never a food safety risk associated with any Karicare products made with whey protein concentrate (WPC).”
Karicare “back on the shelves”
Nutricia ANZ chief Tap has welcomed the MPI announcement, stating that it “confirmed what we have always believed.”
“All our world standard testing – including our additional testing since we were made aware of the issue – showed no evidence of botulism present in any of the products,” said Tap.
“As a result I am pleased to tell our Karicare customers that all our products are now back on the shelves and I must stress again; our products are safe, our testing has always shown this and now the MPI testing confirms what we have always believed,” she added.