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Draft health standards for pig meat released

Draft import health standards for pig meat and pig meat products released for consultation

MAF Biosecurity New Zealand (MAF BNZ) today issued, for public consultation, four draft Import Heath Standards (IHSs) developed for pig meat and pig meat products. The draft standards are based on an import risk analysis on porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) virus in pig meat.

The draft IHSs are proposed to replace existing IHSs for pig meat and pig meat products for human consumption from Canada and the United States of America, Mexico and the European Union.

Since the existing IHSs contain provisional measures, MAF BNZ has been obliged to undertake a full risk analysis to examine the risk of introducing PRRS in imported pig meat. The risk analysis, carried out over five years, was released for public consultation in July 2006. Forty four submissions were received, and a Review of Submissions was released in June this year.

This process involved assessing all the available scientific literature on PRRS. The risk analysis was peer-reviewed by seven international experts on PRRS. A further round of peer review was carried out on key points of the review of submissions.

A number of stakeholders contest the conclusions of the risk analysis, arguing that the proposed measures are insufficient to manage PRRS. By contrast, the European Union, United States and Canada view the current measures as unjustified for what is, in their opinion, negligible risk.

"New Zealand’s import measures must be technically justifiable, based on the best available science, and be consistent with our international obligations. Our recommendations are based on robust and reasonable science evidence and judgement, said Tim Knox, Director Border Standards, MAF Biosecurity New Zealand.

“Having considered all available information and a wide range of expert opinion, we consider the PRRS risk associated with ready-to-cook pork imports to be negligible if the measures proposed in the IHSs are applied.

“We are now at the stage where we are keen to hear the views of stakeholders. We recognise there are strongly held opposing views on the PRRS risks associated with the proposed IHSs and in recognition of this have extended the consultation period to 90 days. A full and thorough assessment of all submissions will be made at the completion of the consultation period. No decision to issue new IHSs will be made before then.”

The public have until the 18th of February 2008 to make submission on the four proposed IHSs. The draft IHSs recommend the following sanitary measures:

  • Pig meat must be either from a country free from PRRS; or treated prior to import or on arrival, in an officially approved facility, by approved cooking or pH change;

or

  • Pig meat must be in the form of ready-to-cook cuts; or further processed on arrival, in an officially approved facility, into ready-to-cook cuts.

Details on the consultation process and the draft Import Heath Standards are available at http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/strategy-and-consultation/consultation/pig-meat-ihs. The closing date for submissions is Monday, 18 February 2008.

Any person may make submissions on the draft IHS by writing to:
Vivian Dalley
Border Standards
MAF Biosecurity New Zealand
PO Box 2526
Wellington
Or by email to: vivian.dalley@maf.govt.nz

ENDS

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