New Zealand Giant Fonterra Suffers Greatly from Bad Publicity

Botulism Scare has World-Wide Impact

By IGI Global on Sep 11, 2013
Contributed by Ann Lupold, Discipline Manager

New Zealand-based company Fonterra recently received an onslaught of unwanted media attention when batches of whey protein concentrate made in a Waikato plant were discovered to be contaminated, instigating a false alarm of botulism. Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd., the world's fourth-largest dairy company and the largest company in New Zealand (, produces whey proteins or milk powder used in the production of baby formula. The reported contamination resulted in the ban of Fonterra products in China, Vietnam and Russia. The ingredient is exported all over the world to Australia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and Malaysia as well.

Research Perspectives on the Role of Informatics in Health Policy and Management According to The Guardian’s article Fonterra Botulism Scare, “Chinese shops cleared hundreds of [tons] of food products from their shelves,” on Monday, “And officials in Wellington said Beijing had banned imports of all Fonterra milk powder and whey protein.” They added that Moscow had banned all New Zealand dairy goods, despite not receiving any of the affected products.

Last Wednesday, further analysis showed that botulism was not a threat in the suspect products. But the risk of such a contamination has severely damaged this New Zealand giant. Not only will the returned goods cost Fonterra millions of dollars, the negative publicity will go much farther, potentially damaging the company’s future as well.

The July publication Research Perspectives on the Role of Informatics in Health Policy and Management, edited by Professor Christo El Morr, contains a chapter entitled “Towards Healthy Public Policy: GIS and Food Systems Analysis.” This chapter, written by Julie Yang of York University, Canada, lays out a specific structure to identify harmful contaminants in food production. The chapter states:

“Food security is a matter of importance, not only because of the breadth of its reach, but also because it is significantly associated with other health conditions. The loss of food security can impact people physically, psychologically, and socially.” […] “Public health informatics can offer some potential answers to handling and using this large amount of information.”

The utilization of such methods detailed within this book and chapter can save companies and businesses in food production and management the vast detrimental effects of releasing contaminated products. Available in the Book Series Advances in Healthcare Information Systems and Administration (AHISA), the 11 titles packaged within this series provide a channel for international researchers to progress the field of study on technology and its implications on healthcare and health information systems.
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