New Zealand's Fonterra in guilty plea over food safety violations

Fonterra logo Image copyright AFP
Image caption Fonterra is the world's largest exporter of dairy products

New Zealand's Fonterra has admitted four food-safety violations following a botulism scare last year that led to recalls of milk products in China.

Government officials had filed charges against the dairy company, accusing it of processing and exporting dairy products which did not meet standards.

Fonterra is also accused of failing to issue notification about its products not being fit for consumption.

The charges come as Fonterra faces civil court action from Danone.

Earlier this year, the French company said it was suing Fonterra over recalls which Danone alleged led to the company losing hundreds of millions of dollars in sales.

Danone uses Fonterra ingredients in its infant milk formula.

Maury Leyland, a Fonterra manager said: "We have accepted all four charges, which are consistent with the findings of our operational review and the Independent Board Inquiry."

The dairy co-operative has since stepped up its quality control procedures.

In August last year Fonterra sparked a worldwide product recall and food-safety scare when it admitted there could be a bacteria in one of its products which could cause botulism, a severe form of food poisoning.

The product suspected of containing the bacteria which could cause botulism was commonly used in infant formula.

But the bacteria scare turned out to be a false alarm when later tests found another strain, but of a less harmful kind which does not cause food poisoning.

The threat of botulism led to many countries including China blocking imports of dairy products from New Zealand.

The import ban was lifted about three weeks after the initial scare.

Fonterra is the biggest dairy firm in New Zealand, which is the world's largest exporter of dairy products.

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