Fonterra pleads guilty to food-safety charges

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra has pleaded guilty to four food-safety violations following a botulism scare last year.

Government officials on Thursday filed charges accusing the company of processing and exporting dairy products in a way that didn't meet standards and then failing to notify officials quickly enough when it became aware of the lapses.

Maury Leyland, a Fonterra manager, said the company has filed guilty pleas to all charges.

Fonterra faces a maximum fine of 500,000 New Zealand dollars ($426,000).

The botulism scare sparked a global recall of infant formula but turned out to be a false alarm. It came after the company processed whey protein concentrate in dirty pipes.

Initial tests indicated the presence of botulism bacteria but later tests found it was another, less harmful bacteria.