According to media reports from New Zealand further microbiological testing has shown that fears of Clostridium botulinum contamination in three batches of whey protein concentrate produced by dairy company Fonterra were unfounded.
Fonterra informed customers and the New Zealand government about the contamination in early August and this led to recalls of various products containing the whey protein in at least seven countries. However according to the reports, the Ministry for Primary Industries commissioned further testing of the original samples to be carried out at labs in New Zealand and the USA. All the results came back negative for Clostridium botulinum and identified the contaminant as the spoilage species Clostridium sporogenes.
The contamination has been traced back to a sterilisation failure in a pipe at Fonterra’s Waikato facility in May 2012. The problem was not discovered until March this year and the initial microbiological testing confirmed the presence of a possible toxin-producing strain of Clostridium botulinum on 31st July.
While there is relief that there is no serious threat to human health, a number of inquiries have been set up to try and determine how the false alarm occurred.