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Current as of 29/12/14 07:40PM NZST

Late 'sorry' to parents

Fonterra apologises as Chinese question `100% Pure' mantra.

Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings fronted media in Beijing and by teleconference to New Zealand last night and apologised to Kiwi parents.  Photo / AP
Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings fronted media in Beijing and by teleconference to New Zealand last night and apologised to Kiwi parents. Photo / AP

Some worried and confused parents are taking their babies to doctors, fearing the worst in the infant formula contamination scare. And while Fonterra has apologised to families, that's unlikely to prevent heads from rolling.

The botulism scandal deepened last night, with Chinese media casting doubt on New Zealand's 100% Pure image, and the Government promising an inquiry into why Fonterra was so slow in sounding the alarm.

Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings fronted media in Beijing and by teleconference to New Zealand last night and apologised to Kiwi parents. "We understand the distress and level of anxiety."

No children had suffered adverse effects to date, Mr Spierings said.

Thousands of parents are flooding helplines to try to clear confusion over what they should and should not be feeding their babies. Several wrote to the Herald saying they were taking their babies to the doctor for fear they had fed them contaminated formula.

Yesterday, the Ministry for Primary Industries recommended that caregivers should not feed infants Nutricia Karicare stage 1 (for babies) and stage 2 (from six months old), regardless of the batch number.

This was the third time the Government body has changed its advice.

The New Zealand Infant Formula Association is angry about how Fonterra has handled the scandal because its members don't use the dairy exporter's whey protein but have been affected by plummeting international confidence.

One farming source said "heads will roll" over the scandal, which has been sourced back to a dirty pipe at Fonterra's Hautapu plant in Waikato. "I don't think it will go as far as Theo, because he has done the right thing in scooting up to China."

Amid global news coverage of the scandal, China media outlets have started questioning NZ's 100% Pure brand. "Fonterra has had a series of problems and this is beginning to shake the confidence of some Chinese consumers in its '100 per cent pure' milk powder," said the state-owned news agency Xinhua.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

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