British news website Daily Mail Online has taken a swipe at New Zealand's clean green image over the Fonterra botulism scare with a headline that says the country's green claims are "pure manure".
The article criticised the "100 per cent Pure New Zealand" slogan and said the majority of rivers were "too polluted to swim in".
"Its record on preservation of natural environments is among the worst in the world on a per capita basis. And it is the only OECD country that does not produce a regular national report on its environment."
Now, the revelation that some Fonterra whey products have been potentially contaminated with a toxin that could result in a consumer suffering from botulism "exposes New Zealand's vulnerability to food safety scares and the fragility of the clean, green image underpinning its farming- and tourism-based economy", the article said.
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Auckland brand strategist Jill Brinsdon told the website it was "only a matter of time before our dirty little secret came out".
"Fonterra is our largest exporter and they're completely intertwined with New Zealand's image and also they're the absolute biggest benefactor of the '100 per cent Pure' brand.
"When you're coming out with something that presents itself as fact, or 100 per cent pure, then you have to be 100 per cent pure and we've proven that we're not."
The article also pointed to poor river quality due to fertiliser and effluent runoff.
Massey University ecology and environment sustainability researcher Mike Joy told the website because of the lack of regulation on farm waste for 20 years it had been a "free for all" with farmers doing what they could to produce more milk, which was to put more cows on pastures.