WELLINGTON, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand's largest sausage seller and manufacturer Hellers has been fined almost 40,000 NZ dollars (27,363 U.S. dollars) and ordered to pay a total of 15,000 NZ dollars to three children who had moderate to severe allergic reactions after consuming mispackaged sausages.
The children became sick after an incident in September 2017 when staff at Hellers' Wiri factory did not follow procedures, resulting in cheese sausages being packaged as original sausages, said a Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) statement on Wednesday.
Hellers is New Zealand's butcher and top seller of sausages, bacon, ham and small goods. The ministry took a prosecution against the company following an investigation.
The incident could have been prevented if staff had cross-checked labels and the product itself before packing, MPI's manager of food compliance Melinda Sando said in the statement.
"Cheese Sizzlers were sent to market packaged as Original Sizzlers, which did not have cheese included in the ingredient list. They were distributed to various outlets, including supermarkets," Sando said.
"Three children who were allergic to milk complained of allergic reactions after consuming the mispackaged sausages," she said, adding one had a moderate reaction, one a moderate to severe reaction, and one a severe allergic reaction that required hospital treatment.
Hellers initiated a recall of the affected product, and the company has put in place additional staff training and procedures to prevent the problem from recurring, according to the MPI.
This is the first time that tougher penalties introduced in the Food Act 2014 have been imposed, Sando said.