‘Poo Bug’ E.coli in Fonterra Cream


E.coli bacterium

New Zealand’s claim to be 100% pure today took another hammering.

Fonterra, one the world’s largest and supposedly most advanced dairy producers,  announced a product re-call of 9,000 bottles of Anchor and Pams fresh cream because of E.coli contamination.

“The company released a statement last night saying it was conducting a voluntary recall of 300 millilitre and 500ml bottles of Anchor and Pams fresh cream with a best-before date of January 21, 2014, distributed in the North Island from Northland to Turangi, including Gisborne.

This morning Fonterra Brands New Zealand managing director Peter McClure told Radio NZ the cream had tested positive for E.Coli…more

Some strains of Escherichia coli are just about the nastiest food poisoning organisms you’d want to encounter. They usually come from the bowels of warm blooded animals (presumably cows in this instance). Their presence in food can indicate faecal contamination and inadequate heat processing.

Pathogenic strains produce Verotoxin and can cause hemolytic-uremic syndrome, peritonitis, mastitis, septicemia and  pneumonia. Specifically, the Escherichia coli O157:H7 strain can cause kidney failure and death in children and elderly people. If Hemolytic-uremic syndrome develops patients are treated in intensive care and will require dialysis and blood transfusions.

In 2010 there were 138 reported cases of Verotoxin-producing E. coli in New Zealand and 32 cases of Hemolytic-uremic syndrome. We don’t have more recent figures than that.

This is the latest in a catalog of slip ups for Fonterra, including the botched Botulinum scare and shonky recall (caused by inadequate lab standards), cleaning product contamination and DCD scares.

International attention

Despite this being a local problem for local people, this latest scare has already been picked up by international media. Bloomberg re-issued a Fonterra Press release, looks like Fonterra are ahead of the game in controlling news on this one.

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