The HoS has run an update on the spam story on melamine contamination at Fonterra. There is something slightly bizarre about an update on a story that does not exist. All very Zen, really. The HoS story, of course, is also an excellent example of spam journalism:
“Food safety officials stayed quiet about a fresh melamine scare as products containing the potentially fatal chemical found their way into New Zealand shops.
“The authority last night had political backing for its decision to stay silent while it tested the products to make sure they were safe. The food products might have included cereals, yoghurts, biscuits, and bread.
“Food Safety Minister Kate Wilkinson said the authority made the right decision to carry out safety tests on food containing the additive before telling the public.”
This article is attempting to suggest that the Food Safety Authority and Fonterra were complicit in keeping important knowledge from the public. The implication is that big, bad Fonterra is up to it’s old, evil, melamine tricks and planning on poisoning babies in New Zealand. Pardon my sarcasm here, I find this sort of journalism exasperating. Neatly tucked away in a sidebar (not available on line) is the time-line, which tells an entirely different story.
- February 10 – German supplier tells Fonterra melamine has been found in a shipment of mineral supplement used in milk powder manufactured in New Zealand for export and in food products made by other companies and sold in New Zealand.
- February 11 – Fonterra alerts the New Zealand Food Safety Authority.
- February 16 – Two tests show the supplement is contaminated with melamine.
- February 18 – No melamine is detected in 18 batches of the final milk product.
- February 19 – Food Safety minister is informed, tests of 80 milk product samples come back clear.
- February 20 – Samples taken from importer’s warehouse. Fonterra asks to start selling the milk product again. (emphasis mine)
The last line of the sidebar tells you that Fonterrra had stopped selling their product immediately. Here it is again deep within the article:
“Fonterra’s Gary Romano said the company froze shipments of about 30,000 tonnes of affected milk powder.
“Two tests of the iron supplement found unacceptable levels of melamine, but about 80 tests of the finished powder returned no detectable levels. Fonterra is gradually testing and releasing the milk powder in batches as it is confirmed safe. (emphasis mine)”
So this opening line of the article is a blatant sensationalistic lie – “as products containing the potentially fatal chemical found their way into New Zealand shops“. And exactly how was this to happen when they were all sitting in Fonterra’s warehouse? As the NZFSA stated, the danger to the public was exactly zero.
Regardless of their handling of the Chinese contamination, there is no doubt in my mind that Fonterra did everything perfectly here. Immediate freeze on shipments and inform the authorities; followed by testing, including testing every batch going from the warehouse, even after the all clear has been given. Exemplary conduct in anyone’s language.
And Phil Gaff?
“Labour leader Phil Goff said even if the food was safe the contamination hurt New Zealand’s image overseas.”
Excuse me? Between you and the HoS, Phil, you are making a good news story about Fonterra’s superb quality control into a fright night special. What is wrong with you people? Do you want Fonterra to be damaged? Goff (and the idiots at the Herald) must be aware the this sort of contamination happens all the time – that is what quality control is for.
But wait! There are more moronic pronouncements! This time from that doyenne of technology, Sue “Radiation” Kedgley:
“Green MP Sue Kedgley said the incident would undermine consumer confidence. “It’s another example of the risks when sourcing ingredients on the other side of the world.””
ROTFL! It’s stuff from Germany, Sue! You know – home of precision engineering and obsessive compulsive standards. Their quality control is second only to God’s.
I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.
The only people undermining consumer confidence here are the HoS, Phil Goff and the inimitable Sue Kedgley.