THE company that has recalled its infant formula over the Fonterra botulism scare says it is trying to put public information and safety first as thousands inundate its help line.
Nutricia, which makes the Karicare infant formula, has taken about 3,000 calls from worried parents since the weekend revelation that a batch of Fonterra whey concentrate may have been contaminated with potentially fatal botulism-causing bacteria.
Australia and New Zealand managing director Corine Tap says Nutricia, a subsidiary of French food giant Danone, had put 15 people on its 24/7 care line after it found out about the problem from Fonterra on Friday evening.
However, at a press conference on Monday she didn’t directly respond to questions about complaints that frustrated parents couldn’t get through.
“The team is working all day and all night to make sure we have the right information for mums.”
She said people should leave a message (on 0800 258 268) if they could not speak to anyone directly.
“As a mum I fully understand the anxiety and worry that is out there… we are working on getting the right information in the market.”
Nutricia says two products sold in New Zealand – Infant Formula Stage 1 and Stage 2 Follow-on Formula with specific batch numbers – are being recalled due to the potential of contamination.
However, the Ministry for Primary Industries is warning parents to avoid those two products altogether.
Ms Tap was concerned about people not having the right information.
“We are working as we speak with MPI in Wellington to get all the right information out there and to make sure that we minimise the confusion that is caused by the information out there.”
Nutricia has recalled 60,000 tins in New Zealand, which have been on sale since July.
It was a precaution, she said.
“There is no evidence that these products are affected. They MAY be affected by the contaminated ingredient of Fonterra.”
Ms Tap would not say if it was yet considering legal action against Fonterra or comment on Fonterra’s apparent delay in announcing the problem.
She wouldn’t answer questions about profits being hit, repeating that safety was the number one priority.