30 Apr 2016

Kiwifruit in contamination scare cleared to eat

9:52 am on 30 April 2016

After weeks of testing, Zespri says it is fully confident that kiwifruit pulled from export due to potential packaging contamination is safe to eat.

Zespri Kiwifruit is loaded onto the Atlantic Erica at the Port of Tauranga.

Export kiwifruit (file) Photo: Supplied

The fruit was put on hold in April due to concern that small deposits of grease on pocket packs could have contaminated it.

Zespri said the precautionary hold was placed on 1.7 million trays that had used the potentially affected packaging and, within that, about one tray in 10,000 had been exposed to the grease.

Zespri chief operating officer Simon Limmer said the fruit would now be retested and repackaged.

"Whilst it is a costly exercise, it is absolutely appropriate for us to go through the recheck and repackaging process, and we will recover the majority of the cost."

The first consideration was just understanding what the issue was, he said.

"There is no issue for consumer health, and there is value for us to now step through the process and ensure that the quality is right and for that product to enter back into our inventory."

Mr Limmer was unsure when the fruit would go out to market overseas, and said it would take a couple more weeks to recheck and test the fruit being held in this country.

Some of the fruit was also being held offshore, he said.

"None of the product has entered the market at this stage but it will also go through the same rigorous rechecking process before it enters into the supply chain."

Mr Limmer said he was confident there would not be a repeat of the contamination scare.

"These sorts of operational issues do happen from time to time and typically we just work through them to ensure the quality [of the fruit] is not being compromised," he said.

"I am really pleased that the systems have worked, and our traceability and our ability to deal with it has shown that the systems are working."

He said overseas markets could see Zespri had taken the scare absolutely seriously and that it was committed to quality.

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