The Department of Internal Affairs

The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Government Inquiry into Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Contamination Incident

Report on New Zealand’s Dairy Food Safety Regulatory System

Report on New Zealand’s Dairy Food Safety Regulatory System


Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy and Minister for Food Safety Nikki Kaye have released the first of two reports from the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate Contamination Incident. The report addresses Parts B and C of the Terms of Reference for the Inquiry.

The Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy and Minister for Food Safety Nikki Kaye have also released the Government response to the report.

Terms of Reference

The Terms of Reference for the Inquiry are set out in full below.

Inquiry Members

The three Inquiry Members are Miriam Dean CNZM QC (chair), Tony Nowell CNZM and Dr Anne Astin PSM.

Miriam Dean CNZM QC

Miriam Dean has extensive governance and commercial litigation experience.  A former partner at Russell McVeagh, she is a Queen’s Counsel whose practice focuses on commercial, competition and consumer law, arbitration and mediation.  She was also recently the lead reviewer for the 2012 Review of the Crown Law Office.

She is currently chair of both New Zealand on Air and the Banking Ombudsman Scheme.  She is also a director of Crown Fibre Holdings, the Government’s investment vehicle responsible for managing the introduction of ultra-fast broadband to urban areas, and the Auckland Council-controlled organisation managing the Council’s investment portfolio.

Ms Dean is a former president of the New Zealand Bar; previously also a member of the Auckland Transition Agency, the government’s Electricity Market Review and the IANZ Council.

Tony Nowell CNZM

Mr Nowell has extensive governance, food standards and export sector experience. He is currently the chair of Scion (New Zealand Forest Research Institute Ltd), a director of Food Standards Australia New Zealand, New Zealand Food Innovation Auckland and the National Export Advisory Board. A past chair of the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council and the former Chief Executive of Zespri International Ltd, he also previously held senior management roles with Griffin’s Foods Ltd and Sara Lee Corporation.

He co-chaired the New Zealand Government’s Food and Beverage Task Force in 2005 and currently represents New Zealand on the APEC Policy Partnership for Food Security.

Dr Anne Astin PSM

Dr Astin has extensive scientific and management experience, including 10 years as the Chief Executive Officer who developed, established and led the start-up of a government statutory authority for dairy food safety in Victoria, Australia.

The Inquiry is supported by a legal advisor, Simon Mount, and two policy advisors, Mark Patchett and Sally Johnston.

Independent Peer Reviewer

Professor Alan Reilly

Professor Reilly, Chief Executive of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, has agreed to act as expert peer reviewer for the Inquiry’s reports.

Professor Reilly has worked for more than 30 years in the area of food safety. Before taking up his current role, he worked in the Food Safety Programme of the World Health Organization in Geneva. He is also the chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of the European Food Information Council. 

Status of the Inquiry

On 3 December 2013 the Inquiry presented its first report to the Minister for Primary Industries and Minister for Food Safety.  The Inquiry is now in a period of abeyance pending the outcome of the current factual investigation by the Ministry for Primary Industries.  When that investigation and any associated legal processes are completed the Inquiry will re-commence to investigate the incident that originated at Fonterra’s Hautapu plant in 2012 – its causes, the testing and verification undertaken in response, the subsequent recall and communications, and the response of the regulator and recognised agencies.

Provisional List of Issues

The Inquiry has  developed a provisional list of issues / questions which it presently considers will need evaluating in order to address its terms of reference.   The list was provided for the assistance of those wishing to engage with the Inquiry.  It is to be emphasised that the list is provisional; high level; and covers all aspects of, and participants in, the dairy food safety system.

Submissions to the Inquiry

The Inquiry received a number of submissions from interested participants at the first stage.  Submissions will not be made public before the delivery of the Inquiry’s final report. An exception is the submission of the expert body GS1, which deals with technical matters relevant to traceability, and which is available on request. This submission may be of particular relevance to ongoing work relating to traceability, and is available for that reason. 

Useful links


General Enquiries

Con Flinkenberg, phone 04 817 9222, or email

Media contact

Jo Watt, phone 04 495 9382, mobile 027 703 6887 or email