Two and a half years after the false botulism contamination scare, Fonterra and Danone are about to start a three-week arbitration in Singapore, which might be the last step in a complex case.
In August 2013, Fonterra revealed that a particular protein used in baby formula had potentially been contaminated with a botulism-causing bacteria. The scare later turned out to be a false alarm, but it was too late. French food giant Danone alleged that the botulism scare cost them hundreds of millions, in terms of brand damage and recall of products. Eventually, Danone cancelled supply agreements with Fonterra, accused the dairy co-op of breaching the Fair Trading Act and launched a $1 billion lawsuit against it.
On his part, Fonterra Chairman John Wilson admitted that his company should have handled some aspects differently, although the co-op chief executive, Theo Spierings, explained that they did what was right based on given evidence.