Fonterra's suspended execs await fate

By Ben Chapman-Smith

Fonterra's managing director Gary Romano resigned on August 14. Two other senior managers were placed on leave and the Herald understands they are Brent Taylor and Greg Walsh. Photo / Dean Purcell
Fonterra's managing director Gary Romano resigned on August 14. Two other senior managers were placed on leave and the Herald understands they are Brent Taylor and Greg Walsh. Photo / Dean Purcell

Two Fonterra senior managers who are currently "on leave" as a result of the company's botulism scare are now waiting on a board review to find out their fate.

Fonterra announced on August 16 that two of its employees had been placed on leave with immediate effect while it investigated the contamination event.

Although the managers' names have not been disclosed, the NZ Herald understands they are Brent Taylor, director of New Zealand Operations, and Greg Walsh, general manager of NZ Quality Assurance and Technical Services.

Both men were responsible for reporting immediately to Gary Romano, Fonterra's managing director of NZ Milk Products, who resigned over the fiasco on August 14.

Fonterra said it did not want to comment on the NZ Herald's decision to publish the mens' names.

The dairy cooperative is now carrying out a board review to determine whether any staff will face disciplinary action.

A separate operational review has found chief executive Theo Spierings should have been told about the potential contamination much sooner.

"On the finding of escalating these issues, food safety issues, to the right levels....that's where we have said there's definitely certain questions around people and they are on leave until the board review has concluded," Spierings said on Wednesday.

That board review would be completed by the end of this month, with the findings then taken back to senior management.

A Fonterra spokesman said he did not know how long it would take for a decision to be made about the two senior managers' futures.

Meanwhile, clauses around food safety will soon be included in every new Fonterra employee's contract.

It is one of a raft of measures the dairy giant's putting into action, following its operational review.

Director of strategy Maury Leyland said the measures included creating a new position called director of food safety and quality, and the launch of a global food safety hotline.

She said Fonterra would be initiating a discussion about food safety with every new employee.

"We'll be looking at our employment agreements with employees, to ensure that we have the appropriate clauses that give the same dominance of health and safety to food safety and quality."

- with Newstalk ZB

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