E coli contamination results soon

Last updated 16:11 21/01/2014

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Fonterra says it may not know until the end of the week the source of the E coli contamination that triggered a voluntary recall on some of its fresh cream products.

This is despite Fonterra Brands NZ managing director Peter McClure's statement yesterday that the co-operative should know by today the source of the contamination.

McClure said the co-operative had ruled out the pasteurisation process as the cause of the E coli.

"We're focusing in on a couple of areas. I don't know if we'll ever have the exact definitive cause of it but we'll certainly have the most likely areas that could have caused it."

McClure said the contamination was known tp havee occurred in the cream during post-pasteurisation because the testing of the pasteurisation process came back negative.

"All of the testing was fine for the pasteuriser."

The E coli contamination caused Fonterra to announce last week a voluntary recall of 8700 300ml and 500ml bottles of Anchor and Pams fresh cream with a best before date of January 21, 2014, distributed in the North Island from Northland to Turangi, including Gisborne.

The cream was distributed to retail and foodservice outlets.

McClure was hopeful that the type of E coli found was one of the organism's more benign strains.

"We're still doing a whole bunch of testing but we have eliminated the two most serious types," he said.

Further testing of the E coli was taking place in Australia and he expected to get the results back in the next week.

In an email to shareholders, Fonterra chairman John Wilson said the cream recall was "extremely frustrating".

"A lot of work is being done in our co-op around food safety and quality."

Wilson said all of the affected product was off the shelves and Fonterra is continuing to inform the public of the affected batch numbers.

"Management are now going over every aspect of what happened and how the recall was handled."

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- Fairfax Media

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