Fonterra asked AgResearch to test whey samples for the clostridium botulinum toxin: it came back positive. So Fonterra issued a statement sparking global recalls of its product, a firestorm of consumer panic and criticism of the dairy giant. But the organisation in charge of accreditation of laboratories says the crown research laboratories were never qualified to carry out the tests: in fact NO NZ labs are accredited!
When Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) was finally notified by Fonterra, it sent samples to four overseas labs - all accredited - and had results back in 3½ weeks…confirming the contamination was a harmless strain of clostridium sporogenes.
Fonterra says it used AgResearch because it is one of only two research facilities in NZ capable of carrying out the test. AgResearch acknowledges it's not accredited, but claims it has the necessary experience and facilities to test for botulism. It agreed to carry out the botulism tests as a researcher, not as an accredited lab. It says when it advised Fonterra of the positive result, it said to also seek further testing. However, Fonterra claims it had no choice at that time but to go public that there was potential contamination.
So…panic reigned, orders were cancelled, reputations damaged… simply (it seems) because Fonterra didn't do the correct thing initially and go to an accredited lab!
Note to Fonterra: update your systems, for crissake! ONLY use accredited labs, establish clear lines of communication, traceability systems, specialised audits, more stringent quality controls… ANYTHING to avoid a repeat of what was – by ANY definition – a total FUCK-UP!!!