News from NZ Government
The Ministries of Education, Primary Industries and Health are assisting Palmerston North Girls’ High School with information about potentially contaminated whey protein concentrate used at the school.
“The Ministry of Health has advised us that the product was used in a science project to make drinks. While some students may have consumed drinks with the product in them, it was last consumed on 19 April,” says Health Minister Tony Ryall.
“The Medical Officer of Health has spoken to the school’s principal today and provided reassurance that any illness from consuming the product is highly unlikely, and that the students are no longer at risk.
“I am advised that all remaining product was returned to Fonterra this morning.”
Mr Ryall says advice from the Ministry of Health is that in the age group of high school students the illness would usually occur within one to two days. Botulism caused by spores that infants get has an incubation period between three and 30 days.
“The illness is very rare, and can be treated, and with appropriate care most people recover fully. If your doctor suspects that someone has botulism, they will be referred to hospital where they will be assessed,” Mr Ryall says.
General advice is that if you are concerned that your child might have botulism or infant botulism please see your GP urgently, call Healthline on 0800 611 116 or PlunketLine on 0800 933 922 or present to your local emergency department.
“The Ministry of Education has a clear process when a school needs information about something that potentially affects its pupils and where there is a heightened need for information for students, parents and staff,” says Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye.
“As soon as we knew this school may be in that situation we activated that process. We were notified late last night and more details were provided this morning.
“I have advised Education Minister Hekia Parata and spoken to the principal to reassure her that all support the school requires will be provided,” Ms Kaye says.
“It is important to note there have been no reported cases of botulism or infant botulism reported in New Zealand to date this year,” Mr Ryall says.
“There are also no cases where botulism or infant botulism looks likely to be the cause.”