Threat to contaminate food supply - Statement from FGC

10 March 2015

The New Zealand Food & Grocery Council strongly condemns the criminal who has issued blackmail threats to damage our food supply. The council has absolute confidence in the safety of the New Zealand food supply.

This is an attack on Brand New Zealand.  Our country has a reputation for producing safe, high-quality food products which are in demand around the world, and this coward’s letter doesn’t change that at all.

These letters are an attack on all New Zealanders, designed to gain publicity and cause the maximum damage to the New Zealand economy.

The Food & Grocery Council’s message to parents is clear: we are absolutely confident about the safety of infant formula manufacturing in New Zealand and the products sold in our supermarkets.

Food manufacturing in New Zealand is safer now than at any time in our history.  Even so, our infant formula companies have chosen to add additional testing and even more stringent security measures – beyond what is already world-best practice and regulatory requirements – solely to give consumers additional reassurance during this difficult time.  

New Zealanders can also be assured that all major consumer goods companies and industry associations have guidelines to deal with malicious product tampering, and have had them for decades. Tamper-evident packaging is standard in all sensitive grocery categories so broken seals or packaging can be easily spotted. 

New Zealand supermarkets are among the safest places of all to purchase products. They have common-place protections such as in-store cameras, bright lights, staff alert to suspicious behavior, and lots of members of the public around at all times.  

The Food & Grocery Council’s advice to shoppers is:

  • continue to follow responsible food practices
  • always carefully examine packaging
  • always check any anti-tampering devices such as seals.

This is not new advice and something the majority of shoppers do already. It doesn’t matter what the product is – shoppers should always check to see that seals are intact.

The Food & Grocery Council’s member companies in New Zealand and globally are well-prepared for these sorts of incidents. Food defence and the protection of supply chains continue to be an absolute priority. Our members work every day on plans to minimise all risks in their supply chains. 

Manufacturers prepare thorough hazard and risk-management plans. Processes are highly automated, which helps to minimise any human contact, and internal security measures include locked-down areas, vetting of personnel, and authorised-access-only areas. In the case of infant formula, testing is rigorous and extensive at regular stages of the manufacturing process.

 

FGC Chief Executive Katherine Rich was interviewed extensively in the media after the issue broke. You can listen to some of the radio interviews on 11 March by clicking on these links:

Interview with Radio NZ

Interview with RadioLive (Sean Plunket)

Interview with RadioLive (Duncan Garner)

 

 

Other media reports:

Danone says milk powder safe (Radio NZ)