No risk to human health following kiwifruit contamination scare

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Kiwifruit cartons were unloaded from the Ice Glacier after a contamination scare. Photo/Andrew Warner
Kiwifruit cartons were unloaded from the Ice Glacier after a contamination scare. Photo/Andrew Warner

Zespri has concluded there is no risk to human health following a lubricant contamination scare earlier this month.

Trraces of mechanical lubricant were found on some Chinese-manufactured plastic tray liners spotted during the kiwifruit packing process and forced the unloading of a ship docked at the Port of Tauranga on April 7.

Zespri said in a statement today that it had has full confidence that fruit currently on hold due to potentially affected packaging posed no risk to consumer safety.

The fruit was put on hold following concerns that small deposits of grease on pocket packs could affect around 0.01 per cent of the fruit on hold.

Since then Zespri has sought advice from numerous domestic and international independent agencies on the compounds found in the grease to understand any risk it may pose to consumers.

Zespri chief operating officer Simon Limmer said following that process, Zespri could conclude there was no risk to consumer health given the composition of the grease and the very small deposits potentially on the packaging.

"Having confirmed there is no risk to human health, we now want to focus on ensuring all our fruit is delivered in top condition.

"This means we will now undertake a process to unpack, check and repack all trays of fruit in potentially-affected packaging to ensure no product with any traces of grease get to market.

"We are taking this extra step to reassure our customers and consumers that this fruit is the same premium quality as all Zespri Kiwifruit," Mr Limmer said.

The same process would be used to check and re-pack trays currently on hold in the market. Once this process was finished, the remaining fruit would be released from hold.

"We thank and acknowledge the huge efforts of the industry in working through this issue," Mr Limmer said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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