New Zealand-based dairy products giant Fonterra was ordered by the Wellington District Court on Friday to pay fines to the tune of USD 255,000. The company was fined after it was found guilty of violating food safety regulations pertaining to a botulism scare in 2013. The dairy giant had pleaded guilty on four charges for failing to meet standards stated in the Animal Products Act.
The company had been charged of non-compliance by the New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries in March 2014, stating that it had failed to comply with food processing standards.
According to Judge Peter Hobbs who passed the judgment, he had taken into consideration the fact that Fonterra had taken a few corrective measures to address the non-compliance issues as well as its guilty plea. The judge also ruled that the non-compliance on Fonterra’s part had resulted from carelessness rather than being a deliberate act. He added that it was however, important to hold Fonterra accountable for the adverse impact caused by the scare on the market in general and on the reputation of New Zealand as a food exporter in particular.
Fonterra was in the news after reports of 42 tons of its whey protein concentrate—which is a critical ingredient used in the manufacturing of infant formula—was contaminated with bacteria known to cause botulism. This forced the company to recall a number of its dairy products from various locations worldwide. However, further tests did not find any risk-causing bacteria in the samples and the scare was termed as a false alarm.
Following the judgment, a senior official from the company said that they will not be challenging the fine imposed by the court.