Sep 20, 2008

Central Authorities In China Notified By NZ Government

Helen Clark has dropped a bombshell in the milk powder contamination scandal. The Chinese Government did not know about the scandal at senior levels until the New Zealand Government informed it of the contamination. This according to the NZ Herald.

Prime Minister Helen Clark yesterday said Fonterra had significant knowledge about the contamination before it alerted the Government, but the company was in a difficult position.
"They wanted a product recall and they could not get any action at all from the local government in China.
"I think the advantage of the New Zealand Government hearing about it and determining that Beijing must be told is that we got action."
Helen Clark said it was important to concentrate on getting Fonterra focused on ensuring quality of product in future joint ventures.

This has been repeated in Radio NZ reporting.

But it has put more focus on the gap between the NZ Embassy in Beijing being informed of the problem and the reporting of the problem to Wellington. Once reported to Wellington action appears to have taken a week. The Herald Editorial today has a focus on this

Why, when it learned a baby had died and hundreds were sick, did it fail to convince San Lu to recall to product? Why did it wait for 12 days to alert the New Zealand Embassy?

And the embassy may be asked why it then took two weeks to report the problem to Wellington? A further week passed before the embassy was told to alert the Chinese authorities.

We do need answers to these questions.