Sanlu, DCD, Botulism scare: a Fonterra disclosure timeline

March 2008 – Fonterra subsidiary San Lu receives reports of ill health among Chinese children being fed its formula
August 2, 2008 – Fonterra directors on San Lu board informed that tests of milk powder indicated melamine contamination
August 14, 2008 – Fonterra “informally” informed the embassy in Beijing of the problem by passing comment to an official at a social function
September 8, 2008 – Fonterra notifies the New Zealand government of the problem
September 11, 2008 – The World Heath Organisation is notified of the problem
September 23, 2008 – Four children confirmed dead, hundreds critically ill

"I can look at myself in the mirror and say that Fonterra acted absolutely responsibly."
- Fonterra chief executive Andrew Ferrier, September 2008

September 2012 – Fonterra tests reveal traces of the agricultural chemical dicyandiamide (DCD) in some dairy products
October 25 2012 – Fonterra’s $525 million shareholders’ fund launched
November 2012 – Fonterra informs Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) about DCD issue
December 2012 – Secret DCD working party established by MPI, including representatives from Ravensdown, Ballance Agri-Nutrients, Fonterra and the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand
January 24 2013 – Ministry for Primary Industries and fertiliser companies Ravensdown and Ballance Agri-Nutrients issue statements about traces of DCD being found in milk and a voluntary suspension of sales
January 25 2013 – Wall Street Journal asks: “Is New Zealand milk safe to drink,” sparking a global media storm

"I honestly believe what we have done for this country and how we have liaised with our customers, consumers and countries, it is to our credit."
Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings, February 2013

March 2013 – A Fonterra product tests positive for clostridium, sparking months of “intensive testing”
July 31 – Tests indicate the potential presence of a strain of bacteria, which can cause botulism, in a whey protein concentrate. On the same day it sends out a press release and informs the stock exchange it is lifting its forecast milk price for the 2014 season
August 2 – Fonterra informs MPI and eight customers about the issue
Midnight, August 3 – Fonterra issues statement saying it has advised eight customers of a “quality issue” involving three batches of whey protein concentrate. It does not name the customers. It says the problem was caused by a dirty pipe at its Hautapu manufacturing site.
August 5 – Fonterra makes an announcement to the NZX, naming its animal feed subsidiary NZAgBiz, as one of the eight affected customers. Later that day, Prime Minister John Key says the dairy giant did not notify officials of the problem soon enough and government officials were being embedded in Fonterra offices
August 7 – MPI confirms China has temporarily suspended the importation of whey powder and dairy base powder produced by Fonterra, or produced in Australia using Fonterra’s whey protein powder as an ingredient

"I believe Fonterra has acted in a responsible manner, with public health at the forefront of our minds throughout."
- Mr Spierings, August 7 2013