New Zealand's Minister for Primary Industries (MPI) Nathan Guy and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye on Feb. 18 announced that a working group will be set up to improve dairy product traceability. according to

“The independent Government inquiry into the whey protein concentrate (WPC) contamination incident highlighted the importance of effective systems for dairy traceability,” Guy said. “The inquiry recommended lifting the dairy sector’s ability to trace products and ingredients through a working group focusing on regulatory and worldwide best practices.”

The working group will be headed by independent chairman John Larkindale. It will also include representatives from the dairy and wider food industries, Kaye said.

Larkindale is a former New Zealand high commissioner to Australia, deputy head of mission in Beijing and deputy secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He has held several positions in New Zealand and overseas since joining the ministry in 1972. Larkindale has a science background with a PhD from McGill University in Montreal and he was also a director of information technology at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The rest of the group would have a range of important skills, including an understanding of best practice for traceability at a regulatory and industry level, Guy said.

They would also have first-hand knowledge of how dairy supply chains work, international experience and expertise with New Zealand’s regulatory frameworks, he said.

The traceability working group will report to MPI Director-General Martyn Dunne.

Members will be appointed from:

    Food and Grocery Council
    NZ Retailers Association
    GS1 NZ
    Dairy Companies Association of NZ (DCANZ) representative of large-scale manufacturers
    DCANZ representative of small-scale producers of retail-ready dairy products
    Infant Nutrition Council
    NZ Infant Formula Exporters Association
    One member each from MPI and AsureQuality

The group’s membership will be finalized this month. It will have its first meeting in March to determine its terms of reference and work programme, including timeframes for reporting back, Kaye said.