Chinese scientist may join Fonterra probe

The West Australian
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The New Zealand government is considering putting a Chinese scientist on an inquiry team that will investigate all aspects of Fonterra's contamination crisis.

The cabinet will discuss the membership and terms of reference for a ministerial inquiry when it meets on Monday.

Prime Minister John Key says its mandate will include how, why and where the whey protein product was contaminated with a bacteria that could cause botulism.

The contamination has had worldwide repercussions and risks damaging New Zealand's reputation as a safe food supplier.

China takes about 90 per cent of Fonterra's baby milk powder and Mr Key says confidence must be restored in that market.

"One possibility is that if we can find an eminent Chinese scientist who is a specialist in this area, we may well put them on the inquiry," he said on TV One on Monday.

"That would hopefully give them more confidence."

The ministerial inquiry which Mr Key is expected to announce after cabinet meets will be the fourth investigation into the contamination - Fonterra is holding two of its own and the Ministry for Primary Industries has already started an inquiry.

Mr Key says he will go to China when the results of the inquiries are known.

"I need the answers from those inquiries so I can look down the barrel of their cameras and say 'have confidence in our products, we've fixed the issues'," he said.

"One thing that's working for us is that since I said I would go to China, a lot of the Chinese media has turned around - they see a political leader prepared to front up, and they like that."

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