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NZ Pork Loses Appeal over Imported Raw Meat Risk

18 March 2013

NEW ZEALAND - NZ Pork, the lobby group for the nation’s pig farmers, has lost its appeal against changes to import health standards that will allow raw meat from countries with Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) into New Zealand.

The disease, also known as blue-ear pig disease, causes still-born piglets and respiratory illnesses in young pigs. It costs the US swine industry more than US$600 million a year, according to the website.

NZ Pork had challenged the Ministry of Primary Industries’ response to an independent review panel report on raw meat imports which led to the ministry’s decision to issue four new health standards for raw pork.

The new standards are less restrictive than those that have applied since 2001 but MPI director-general Wayne McNee says he is confident they effectively manage the risks of diseases such as PRRS becoming established in New Zealand.

He said under the new standards raw pork may only be imported without further treatment in consumer-ready cuts of less than 3 kilograms, free from lymphatic tissue.

According to NZ Pork, a total of 41,384 tonnes of pork was imported in 2011/2012, of which 97.5 per cent was frozen. Canada was the biggest supplier, followed by the US, Finland and Australia.

Total domestic production of pork for 2011/12 was 49,787, down 0.6 per cent from 2010/11.

Disappointment over appeal dismissal

The pork industry is very disappointed by the Court of Appeal’s dismissal of its appeal, Chairman Ian Carter said.

"We are disappointed as we have concerns about the level of risk the new IHS constitutes," he said.

NZPork appealed against the introduction of a new IHS relaxing the border standards for importing pig meat from countries with Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS).

"The Appeal was solely focused on the process that MPI followed in coming to their decision on the IHS."

However, the industry primarily wants confidence that MPI is accurately assessing and appropriately managing the biosecurity risks presented by importing raw pig meat from PRRS affected countries, Mr Carter said.

"We know that 100 per cent biosecurity effectiveness is not possible, but we can strive for biosecurity measures that are effective enough to protect our economy. We cannot afford for a devastating disease like PRRS to enter New Zealand. For that reason we are and will continue to work closely with MPI on New Zealand’s biosecurity mitigation and response measures."

Mr Carter said that he believed NZPork and MPI can continue to work effectively together.

"We have a shared objective and investment in New Zealand’s biosecurity integrity. We all want the same thing."

Further Reading

Find out more information on PRRS by clicking here.

ThePigSite News Desk

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