Fonterra managers sent on leave
A Sri Lankan court has issued an order banning the sale, distribution and advertising of all Fonterra milk products for two weeks, officials said.
The National Health Services Union sought the order because there were Fonterra milk products still in the market suspected to be contaminated with dicyandiamide (DCD) despite an order from the health ministry that they be recalled. DCD is a nitrate inhibitor used in fertilisers.
"An enjoining order was issued preventing Fonterra...from (wholesaling), selling and distributing and or selling for agents of all brands of Fonterra products for a period of two weeks," Upul Jayasuriya, who appeared on behalf of National Health Services (Trade) Union, told Reuters. The court had also barred advertising by Fonterra's milk products, Jayasuriya said.
An official from Fonterra Brand Sri Lanka declined to comment on the court order, saying they had not received the order yet.
The Health Ministry had said a recent local test by Sri Lanka's Industrial Technology Institute discovered DCD in some Fonterra brand milk powders and had directed the world's largest dairy exporter to recall the products.
Fonterra has disputed the accuracy of the local testing, but on Thursday, Leon Clement, managing director of Fonterra Brands Sri Lanka, told Reuters that the company has recalled two batches of Anchor-branded product as the result of the directive from the Ministry of Health and the recall has now been completed.
Meanwhile, Fonterra has put two senior managers on leave as its probe into operational matters that led to a botulism bacteria scare deepens.
The move follows the resignation on Wednesday with immediate effect of Gary Romano, managing director of the dairy company's New Zealand manufacturing operations.
Romano was Fonterra's face during the food-safety scare nearly two weeks ago.
No details about the two managers are available.
The operational review is one of four investigations under way into the scare, which sparked recalls of baby formula and panic among New Zealand and Asian consumers.
A ministerial-led inquiry has been launched, along with an investigation by the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Fonterra board of directors is conducting its own inquiry.
The scare, involving a potentially contaminated whey protein ingredient sold by Fonterra for use in baby formula, sports drinks, and animal foods, has claimed no victims.
All products at risk of being contaminated by a bacteria that can cause botulism have been contained.
Chief executive Theo Spierings said the company was moving quickly to establish key facts around the incident.
"As they emerge, we are taking appropriate action."
Spierings said that placing the two on leave did not pre-empt the findings of the operational review and they will continue to be involved in the ongoing investigation.
The internal operational review will be completed by the end of the month and is looking into the transparency of information in the business, and how that information is escalated to the appropriate levels.
The findings from the operational review will be shared with those conducting the board of directors' inquiry.
- With Reuters
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