Fonterra’s costly storage error
An incident involving dairy products stored at incorrect temperatures in commercial operations is extremely rare, according to MPI.
It is understood that millions of dollars worth of dairy product at Fonterra’s Crawford St plant was left in a transport tunnel for six days in 10 degree celsius temperatures.
The maximum time the product could be stored at the temperature without being damaged was two days.
The factory collects a third of all Fonterra’s ingredients in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty, distributing 33,000 containers of milk powder and cheese a year, Fonterra’s website says.
NZ Distribution Centres general manager Deena Clarkson has said the company was holding potentially affected product at the cool store for quality checks.
Ministry of Primary Industries systems audit, assurance and monitoring acting director Paul Dansted said MPI has been working with Fonterra in relation to the incident.
Incidents involving dairy products stored at the incorrect temperature were rare, he said.
MPI runs a number of monitoring and testing programmes focussed on ensuring compliance with food safety requirements.
Its monitoring programmes cover meat, poultry, seafood, honey, dairy products and fresh produce. More than a million tests are carried out by MPI each year.
Any potential food safety issues must be reported to a company "verifier’’ who reports to MPI. All potentially affected product was then secured and an investigation started.
If tests show the Fonterra dairy product has been damaged by the incorrect storage, the product could potentially be used as stock food, reprocessed using heat treatment or destroyed, Dansted said.
The product could either be disposed at a landfill or buried.
On Friday, Clarkson said the company was continuing to take precautions, its quality checks were working, and most product was moving through Crawford St as usual.
If a company does not advise MPI of an issue actions could range from formal warnings, increased verification visits to prosecution.