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Food safety culture needed for New Zealand dairy industry
Time:16 Dec 2015
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Source: Globaltimes
A government-appointed group set up in the wake of Fonterra's 2013 false botulism scare and global product recall has found New Zealand's dairy sector food safety capability in "good shape," although a stronger food safety culture was needed, it said.

The Dairy Capability Working Group, set up in August last year, issued its report on food safety Tuesday, making 10 recommendations.

Three recommendations were for immediate action, said a statement from the Ministry for Primary Industries, New Zealand's food safety regulator.

These were the introduction of voluntary guidelines on best practice food safety governance for board directors; the need to highlight food safety excellence across the sector; and improving cross-sector capability through secondments among the industry and MPI.

Other key recommendations included: promoting a food safety culture across the dairy sector and ensuring common understanding of all dimensions of food safety; enhancing the relevance and scope of food safety education and training, especially for leadership and non-specialist roles; and raising the profile of food safety careers.

"There are areas of education and training where a greater emphasis on food safety awareness would benefit the dairy sector, particularly in leadership roles and in broader qualifications that require food safety awareness," working group chair Greg Gent said in the statement.

"That, however, is only part of what is required to future-proof our dairy sector's food safety capability," he said.

"We also need to build a common sector-wide food safety culture. That culture needs to be based on a common understanding of food safety across the sector that places consumer safety firmly at the center, coupled with supporting governance and a risk management orientation within each organization."

MPI director-general Martyn Dunne said in the statement that MPI had convened a meeting of senior dairy sector representatives on Dec. 10 to discuss the report and its implications, and implementation of agreed recommendations would start next year.

Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew said a strong commitment from the dairy sector was needed for the report's recommendations to make a real impact.

"The report supports a holistic and future-focused approach to food safety, where the end consumer is firmly at the centre. This approach will be critical to achieving the government's target to double agricultural sector exports by 2025," Goodhew said in a statement.

Fonterra launched a global recall in August 2013 after batches of whey protein concentrate were found to be contaminated with a botulism causing bacterium.

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