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Pig Farmers Take Action Over Raw Pork Imports

by 5m Editor
16 May 2011, at 11:28am

NEW ZEALAND - Pig farmers are fighting an 11th-hour battle against new Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) import health standards.

The standards allow for limited imports of fresh uncooked pork from countries that have the disease porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS).

Industry board New Zealand Pork went to the High Court in Wellington today to seek an interim order for a review of the standards.

The board said it feared the standards could increase the risk of the disease entering New Zealand.

Pork from countries with PRRS must undergo treatment to deactivate the disease, reports 3news.co.nz.

Biosecurity officials originally proposed rules last year that would allow imports of consumer-ready cuts of uncooked pork from Canada, Europe, Mexico and the United States, but were advised by a review panel to look at 29 deficiencies, including their import risk assessment.

But last month MAF said it had issued updates to those four import health standards for pig meat, pig meat products and by-products which would effectively manage the risk of introducing PRRS to New Zealand.

It said imports of fresh uncooked pork would be restricted to cuts smaller than 3kg that had the lymph nodes removed.

MAF's deputy director-general for standards, Carol Barnao, said "the likelihood of the virus being introduced through the importation of uncooked pork would be equivalent to an average of one outbreak per 1227 years."

But NZ Pork - which represents 360 farmers who produce 46,000 tonnes of pork a year - has said that if fresh cuts are imported PRRS will enter New Zealand within three to five years. It is worried that pork offcuts could end up in food scraps fed to pigs, such the thousands of "backyard pigs" kept outside mainstream farming.

Further Reading

- Find out more information on PRRS by clicking here.