Delay in communicating threat questioned

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MIL OSI – Source: Massey University

Headline: Delay in communicating threat questioned

One of the letters sent to Fonterra containing the blackmail threat

Massey University crisis communications specialist Dr Chris Galloway has questioned the delay in informing the public about the 1080 threats.

Dr Chris Galloway.

“You can understand way the authorities didn’t release the information immediately, but after a short period to check out their veracity, I think most parents would have preferred to find out as soon as possible,” Dr Galloway says.“Most people operate on a belief they have the right to know and they want to be able to make a decision about whether to stop using a product or not, even when the risk is minimal.”

Dr Galloway says the message that the risk was low and the police were doing everything possible to monitor the threat and apprehend the blackmailer would have done more to establish trust with the public if communicated earlier.

“Announcing the threat four months after the fact puts them in a weaker position,” he says.

Dr Galloway says the agrifood sector is so critical to New Zealand’s economic success that more coordinated crisis communication plans are needed.

Professor Steve Flint.

“Key stakeholders need to have a co-ordinating action team to so they can move quickly in cases like this to minimise damage to consumer confidence.”

Meanwhile, Massey University food safety specialist Professor Steve Flint says unless the alleged blackmailer threatening to contaminate infant milk formula with 1080 works at a dairy company, it would be extremely difficult for them to access the product.

Professor Flint, from the Institute of Food Science and Technology, says that  other means of contamination open to the blackmailer were also limited.

“Supermarkets also have tamper-proof packaging it’s unlikely they’d be able to access it that way either.”

Professor Flint says as with any threat “you can never be completely assured of safety.” However, the chance of this threat happening in New Zealand is extremely low.

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Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues.
Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia’s FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand’s The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.

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