An independent inquiry into the circumstances of quality issues with a whey protein concentrate (WPC80), announced by Fonterra's Board early this week, is now underway.
Inquiry Chairman and Fonterra Independent Director Sir Ralph Norris said the first Inquiry Committee meeting held yesterday had confirmed terms of reference for the Inquiry and noted the appointment by the Fonterra Board of a further independent member Professor Stuart McCutcheon, Vice Chancellor of the University of Auckland who will join the Committee, effective immediately.
"Professor McCutcheon is a respected New Zealander whose independence, strong credentials as a scientist, and governance experience will further ensure the Inquiry is conducted at the right level and addresses the right questions without fear or favour," Sir Ralph said.
Professor McCutcheon holds a PhD, has completed post-doctoral work as a Harkness fellow at Cornell University and published extensively in the fields of endocrinology and metabolic physiology. He is a previous Director of the New Zealand Dairy Research Institute, the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research and is presently Chair of the Universities New Zealand Research Committee.
Professor McCutcheon joins retired High Court Judge Dame Judith Potter as the two independent members on the committee, alongside five Fonterra Directors, and Chapman Tripp QC, Jack Hodder, who is undertaking a review of events for the committee.
To assist with technical aspects of this review the WPC80 Inquiry Committee has also confirmed the appointment of an international expert on the manufacturing and safety of foods and food components. He is Jacob Heida, an expert in whey production processes and standards for infant food ingredients and current member of the Disciplinary Committee of the Netherlands Controlling Authority for Milk and Milk Products.
"With work now underway, the Committee is focused on a thorough and independent investigation into all relevant aspects of the WPC80 quality issue and will speak further about the findings of the inquiry when our deliberations are complete," Sir Ralph said.