Formed in 2001 to represent most New Zealand dairy farmers, Fonterra is the world’s biggest dairy exporter. It suffered a setback in China in 2008 after an adulterated milk powder scandal affecting Sanlu, 43-per-cent-owned by Fonterra. The milk powder was adulterated with melamine, affecting thousands of Chinese infants and killing six. Sanlu was declared bankrupt and several managers were sentenced to prison. In 2013, Fonterra also sought to reassure the market after Dicyandiamide, also known as DCD, was found in exported New Zealand milk. DCD is used to stop nitrogen leaching on farms. In August 2013, some of its products were withdrawn in selected Asian countries including China after it said it had found bacteria which can cause botulism in some of its dairy products.
Fonterra recalls cream over E. Coli fears in new food-safety scare
Reuters in Wellington and Sydney
New Zealand's Fonterra is recalling products distributed in the country that have been contaminated with the E coli bacteria.
It is the second food-safety scare faced by the company in less than six months.
The dairy co-operative is recalling 8,700 bottles of fresh cream marketed under its Anchor brand with a "best before date" of January 21, 2014 that were distributed around New Zealand's North Island.
Cream sold under the Pams brand is also included in the recall.
"We are sorry for the inconvenience and concern this recall might cause, but food safety and quality are our top priorities," Fonterra said.
The recall comes after Fonterra, the world's largest dairy processor, in August said that one of its ingredients used in infant milk formula, sports drinks and other products contained a potentially fatal bacteria, triggering recalls in Asian countries including China.
Further testing showed the initial finding was a false alarm.
Fonterra said that regular testing at its Takanini site in Auckland had shown that the cream manufactured last Monday had high levels of coliform, a bacteria found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals, along with plants, soil, air and water that can indicate the possible presence of E coli.
Further test results released on Monday confirmed E coli contamination.
"A small amount of the product had gone on to the market, but the rest of the product we immediately put on hold and today we decided to recall the products on the market, based on the further testing" said Peter McClure, managing director of Fonterra Brands NZ.
Fonterra had no reports of illness caused by consuming the affected product.