Fonterra Co-Operative Group Ltd will plead guilty to charges stemming from its global botulism contamination scare last year.
According to The Australian, New Zealand-based Fonterra will face four charges, including exporting products that failed to meet relevant food-safety standards and failing to notify government officials as soon as the bacteria was discovered in some of its products.
“We have accepted all four charges, which are consistent with the findings of our Operational Review, and the Independent Board Inquiry,” Fonterra’s Managing Director People, Culture and Strategy Maury Leyland said in a statement. “The [precautionary whey protein concentrate recall] event caused us to examine in detail what happened, why it happened, and what we must do to minimise the risk of it ever happening again.
The charges carry a maximum penalty of 500,000 New Zealand dollars or around US$425,000.
The botulism scare last August prompted New Zealand officials to hold back some of Fonterra’s widely-used infant formula products from supermarket shelves and triggered a recall of products in several countries, according to Reuters. The scare put the country’s clean, green image under scrutiny.
However, less than a month after announcing the botulism contamination, Fonterra announced the initial information was inaccurate and led to a false test result. Instead, further testing found the products posed no food safety risks.