Fonterra CEO Says All Affected Dairy Product Removed From Market

Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings
Fonterra Cooperative Group Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Theo Spierings. Photographer: Brendon O'Hagan/Bloomberg

Fonterra Cooperative Group Ltd. said all dairy product affected by a potentially contaminated ingredient has been located and removed from the market.

“All stocks have been contained, everything is out of the market,” Fonterra Chief Executive Officer Theo Spierings said at a news conference in Auckland today. “There is little or no more risk for consumers.”

Fonterra, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, said on Aug. 3 that a dirty pipe at a processing plant may have tainted whey protein used in goods such as baby formula with botulism-causing bacteria. The warning prompted China and Russia to halt imports of some Fonterra products and caused a spate of recalls in China, Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka and New Zealand. Spierings flew to China in an effort to limit fallout in what he called Fonterra’s “most important market.”

“I said in China that I would not leave China before the situation is stable, from the perspective of markets, consumers, customers and global authorities,” he said today. “The situation is stable.”

Spierings said Fonterra will hold an inquiry into the incident. Asked whether he should resign, he said that was a question for Fonterra’s board.

“I do understand the anxiety and distress this issue has caused,” he said. “I do apologize to consumers and to the public.”

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