The enemy in our midst

And some we even pay with taxpayers’ money

Chinese consumer reaction to the threat to contaminate New Zealand infant formula with 1080 poison has been muted so far, but the Taiwanese have been more strident, said Massey University marketing specialist Associate Professor Henry Chung.

Dr Chung is in Taiwan and monitoring coverage of the 1080 threat in Chinese and Taiwanese media.

He said there had been only one report in Baidu, China’s answer to Google, which was positive.

But two reports in leading Taiwanese media criticised the length of time it took from when the threat was first made to when New Zealand authorities went public on it.

International trading partners first learnt of the threat last month, more than two months after the first letter containing the threat and a sample of contaminated product were received at Federated Farmers’ head office in Wellington, in late November.

Taiwanese media had said it would have been better to go public immediately so consumers don’t lose trust in New Zealand’s food safety.

Dr Chung said they compared it to how quickly information was provided last year when Fonterra recalled a batch of fresh cream supplied to Anchor and Pams due to the risk of E coli contamination, and referred also to communication problems in 2013 during the botulism scare, which later turned out to be false.

“Food safety is the number one issue in Taiwan and China and they feel New Zealand is one of the last places which has high quality, clean and safe dairy products,” Dr Chung said.

I’ve been watching this. ? The world in general was disinterested and it barely registered. ?But a bunch of Kiwi journos and academics are going around actively looking for reactions from trading partners.

Similar to the faux outrage over the GCSB spying on people, journos rang around all the Pacific countries to see if they could generate some outrage. ? Apart from Tonga, who seemed to be blessfully unaware of the?modus operandi?of New Zealand media, everyone else told them to naff off.

I dread the day something truly serious happens. ?It won’t be the actual incident, or the government response that will do the damage. ?It will be the media blowing it up out of proportion to drive their circulation/pageviews/advertising returns.

There are times I shut up because shutting up is for the greater good. ?Journalists that have evidence of Foot and Mouth in New Zealand who’s first reaction is to front page it have no sense of where they belong in society. ?There are times when the greater good is more important than a front page headline that is replaced by another the next day.

There are times when not gutting your own economy, your nation’s international reputation, and not creating a wide-spread panic for the sake of it comes before the headline.

Journos that keep going around our international trading partners whispering rumours and potentially damaging the export industry for the sake of a few column inches are scum.


-?Fiona Rotherham, NZN