Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye said today that they have received a letter from the Chair of the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Contamination Incident, advising that:
“The Inquiry has considered the time that will be needed to report, taking into account the work already undertaken by the Ministry for Primary Industries and Fonterra investigations, the number and nature of the issues arising from the Terms of Reference; the number of participants; volume of material; and the need for fairness to all participants.
Our preliminary advice has been that 6 -9 months would be an appropriate estimate. However, conscious of the need to resolve matters promptly, and in anticipation of full cooperation from all participants, the Inquiry’s present estimate is that it will require until Friday 28 November 2014 (6 months) to present its final report. Participants with whom the Inquiry has consulted have accepted this is a realistic estimate.”
“The first stage of the Inquiry explored regulations and policies relating to food safety events in New Zealand and how these could be strengthened. The second stage of the Inquiry will examine how the potentially contaminated whey protein concentrate entered the New Zealand and international markets and the subsequent response,” says Mr Guy.
This part of the Inquiry could not begin until the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) compliance investigation was complete, sentencing had occurred, and the appeal period had expired.
“Following the first stage of the Inquiry, which found that New Zealand’s food safety system is world leading, Ministers want the Inquiry to report back on the final stage of its work as quickly as possible. We have received advice from the Chair that she expects the Inquiry to conclude its work by Friday November 28 this year and we have accepted that date,” says Ms Kaye.
The Government’s inquiry is headed by Miriam Dean CNZM QC, assisted by Tony Nowell CNZM and Dr Anne Astin PSM and includes independent peer reviewer Professor Alan Reilly, Chief Executive of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.