Epicurean Dairy Limited, manufacturer of The Collective brand, and its former directors have been fined a total of NZD 483,000 ($310,859) for repeatedly failing to report positive listeria results, following an investigation by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).
The New-Zealand dairy company – whose products include gourmet yogurts and yogurt pouches for children – and its former general manager Angus Allan, pleaded guilty to a total of 10 charges of failing to report positive environmental listeria results, in Waitakere District Court last week.
According to the MPI, a total of 190 positive listeria results, that were taken from a floor at the company’s factory in Avondale, went unreported between 2012 and 2016. The company also falsified official related records.
The total sum was made up of a fine of NZD 369,000 to Epicurean Dairy, a charge of NZD 54,000 to Angus Allan, while court costs of NZD 80,000 were also imposed.
MPI’s director of compliance Gary Orr said: “The company was regularly audited to ensure its manufacturing environment was in accordance with regulatory requirements, but it lied about what the true situation was.
“It’s clear that if the company had reported the positive results, there would’ve been significant costs associated with remedying the problem, which included replacing a cracked and unhygienic floor, as well as a halt to production due to the work that needed to be done.”
No product was affected and there were no consumer health impacts. Since the investigation was carried out by MPI, Epicurean Dairy has replaced the worn factory floor where the listeria was present and has continued to operate with no further issues.
Epicurean Dairy Limited in New Zealand commented: “As soon as we were informed of the misreporting we acted immediately including conducting a thorough investigation and making updates to our factory and processes.
“The factory manager who was responsible for this reporting is no longer with our business and has subsequently pleaded guilty.
“In conjunction with New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries we have undertaken a frequent testing and auditing programme and have now achieved the highest level rating possible from MPI for our quality systems.”
Earlier this year, the dairy’s former operations manager, Ilya Pyzhanhov, was also convicted and fined $60,000 after pleading guilty to five charges of deliberately withholding positive environmental listeria results.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019