Heads should roll over second Fonterra recall: Rimmington

CHRIS GARDNER AND GERALD PIDDOCK
Last updated 05:00 15/01/2014

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Fonterra's chairman and board are being asked to resign by a Waikato farmer after the dairy giant's latest food safety scare.

Fonterra yesterday said a batch of fresh cream supplied to Anchor and Pams was contaminated with E coli and recalled 8700 bottles - of 300ml and 500ml - of the product.

Tamahere dairy farmer - and Fonterra shareholder - Russ Rimmington is calling for the heads of Fonterra chairman John Wilson and board members because it's the second such recall in less than six months. Fonterra also recalled infant formula and sports drinks feared to contain botulism-causing bacterium last August.

"Some heads have to roll, these board members should look to their future," Mr Rimmington, who has twice failed to be elected onto the board, said. "It's a $20 billion company and they continue to make these cock ups.

"John Wilson should resign forthwith, no question of that, and the other characters are bagging $200,000 a year for what? Food safety and risk management must be their highest priority. . . It's hitting our brand, not just Fonterra but New Zealand Inc, and Danone is an example of that."

The French food giant has cancelled its supply contract with Fonterra and is taking legal action against it for more than $492m in compensation.

"It's coming out of our payout. The payout should be $14 per kg of milk solids not $8."

Mr Rimmington was angry that nearly 24 hours after the recall was announced through media Mr Wilson had not contacted the co-operative's 10,500 farmer shareholders to explain the situation.

He called for a series of shareholder meetings nationally at which the chairman and board would front.

Mr Wilson did not return calls for comment yesterday.

Fonterra shareholder and Waikato Federated Farmers provincial president James Houghton was also frustrated at the lack of communication provided to shareholders.

Mr Houghton said he only learned about the E coli contamination through the emailed news service provided by The Global Dairy news service yesterday morning.

"It is frustrating, as a farmer, that these things happen."

But Waikato farmer Bruce Rowe was impressed with Fonterra Brands managing director Peter McClure communicating that it was the first positive test for E coli in nearly 20 years.

"That was clever, but I don't think this is anything like the botulism scare."

Federated Farmers dairy section chairman Willy Leferink said the recall showed that Fonterra's quality assurance systems worked.

"It also shows that traceability is working because the co-op has zeroed in on the batches involved and locations they were sold in." 

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- Waikato Times

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