Fonterra has been called out on Facebook for claiming its Mainland feta, made in Denmark, contributes to helping the yellow-eyed penguin in New Zealand.

The company, who supports the Yellow Eyed Penguin Trust with its Mainland cheese products, has been slammed for "green washing" products by making them appear more environmentally friendly than they are.

Dr Mike Joy posted on his Facebook page, alongside a photo of the back of the package of feta: "The idiocy of globalisation and shipping cheese from the other side of the world is very unlikely to be good for yellow eyed penguins."

Joy is a Senior Researcher at Victoria University Wellington's School of Government, and an authority on sustainability and environmental causes.

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The package in question tells customers that, by purchasing the product, they are a "Mainland hero", contributing to helping the yellow-eyed penguin.

His post questioned whether Fonterra's contributions to the yellow-eyed penguin population were hurt by the massive carbon footprint of the cheese that the company imports from Denmark.

A number of Facebook users reacted with outrage at the fact that the cheese was not made in New Zealand, despite being sold in New Zealand by a New Zealand brand.

"That is quite insane, I'm sure that there is a New Zealand made feta cheese," one person commented.

Save the yellow eyed penguin buy this Mainland feta from Fonterra btw its made in Denmark .......?????? The idiocy of...

Posted by Dr Mike Joy on Monday, 26 August 2019

"You've got to be joking I automatically think Mainland product is NZ made! Well, knock me over with a feather, unbelievable," another person said.

Another Facebook user pointed out that, despite the environmental concern for the penguins, the cheese is sold in plastic packaging.

"They'll be choking to death on the plastic! Not buying plastic cheese packaged in plastic," the person said.

Another person claims Fonterra is "green washing" its products, making them appear more environmentally friendly than they are.

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Contacted by the Herald, Fonterra said it has been supporting the Yellow Eyed Penguin Trust for more than 30 years with its Mainland cheese products.

"It is one of the longest running environmental partnerships in New Zealand," Mainland Marketing Manager Margaret O'Sullivan said.

O'Sullivan added that the company produces traditional feta cheese at its Eltham site in Taranaki.

"At the same time we recognise that consumers want choice and for those that prefer a creamy Feta, we import this quality product from Denmark as we don't have the plant to produce it here," she added.