Fonterra shareholders are frustrated at yet another contamination scare, says Taranaki Federated Farmers president Harvey Leach.
"It's not the news we want to hear."
An investigation is under way into how a contracted tanker containing 1-2 kilograms of mud and gravel residue ended up being put through Fonterra's cleaning system.
Fourteen other tankers were contaminated at Fonterra's Hawera plant on Friday before the alarm was raised.
The automated washing system, which uses a recycling water process and detergents, detected the residue after 44 minutes.
It is understood the mud and gravel residue was petroleum industry waste.
"I think Fonterra shareholders will be gutted this has come out considering we're still in damage control from the last episode," Mr Leach said.
The latest problem for the company comes after the report of an independent inquiry, released this week, was critical of Fonterra's handling of its botulism scare in August.
A spokesman for Fonterra said the results of the investigation would be released in the next two weeks.
The contaminated tanker was from the Symons Group, a Taranaki transport company. Symons general manager Mark Robinson would not comment other than to say they were working with Fonterra to investigate the issue.
Labour primary industries spokesman Damien O'Connor said the incident was unfortunate, and probably a result of the high pressure on Fonterra with peak milk flow.
Mr O'Connor said it was reassuring that the firm got on top of the possible contamination before it reached the processing stage.
The mistake highlighted the risks of any kind of environmental contamination that could occur in the dairy chain, he said.
"They should know by now they have to doublecheck every part of the supply and processing chain."
It was of concern that Fonterra was using tankers that had been carrying other cargo to transport milk.
"I'd hope this is a one-off incident."
Green Party agriculture spokesman Steffan Browning was disturbed that a truck that carried gravel and mud was also used to transport milk.
"How could the truck possibly have been put through the Fonterra system unless Fonterra uses these trucks on occasion to carry milk, and how prevalent is that?
"If the tanker was carrying oil and gas waste as has been suggested in reports, this raises serious questions about the connections between oil and gas waste transport and Fonterra."
A fuel haulage tanker driver who would not be named was astonished the same trucks could be used to transport dirty water from a well site and then raw milk.
"It's real bad news, they should never be doing it."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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