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Farmers Reminded Of Their Role In Protecting NZ

Farmers reminded of their role in protecting New Zealand from BSE

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is working with the country’s food producers to remind livestock owners of the dangers of BSE and the importance of keeping it out of New Zealand.

BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) or ‘mad cow disease’ has severely undermined consumers’ confidence in eating beef in the UK and parts of Europe. New Zealand is BSE-free and so is our meat. It’s vital that it stays that way, and to achieve this, farmers need to remember a few simple things.

In a letter signed by representatives of farmers’ organisations, meat producers and MAF, all livestock owners and farmers are being reminded of the ruminant feed ban that has been in place in New Zealand since 1999.

This feed ban requires that farmers do not allow ruminant materials such as meat and bone meal, liquid blood and bone, blood and bone meal and dried blood meal to be fed to any ruminant animal, or spread on pasture where animals could come into contact with it through grazing.

BSE is believed to have been spread in Europe when cattle were fed ruminant meat and bone meal contaminated with the disease. MAF Food Assurance Authority Group Director, Andrew McKenzie says it’s critical New Zealand remains free of the disease.

"We think it’s timely, while BSE is in the media spotlight internationally, to re-remind farmers of their key role in protecting New Zealand consumers, stock and ultimately, our export markets," Andrew McKenzie says.

The letter, addressed to all the country’s rural box holders, asks farmers to check the labels on calf feeds and to make sure ruminant proteins are not fed to animals. It also asks farmers to ensure their garden fertilisers which contain ruminant by-products are kept away from animal feed and to make sure that stock don’t have access to the garden or to blood and bone fertiliser.

The important messages contained in the letter are lent weight by the signatures representatives of Meat New Zealand, the Meat Industry Association of New Zealand, the New Zealand Dairy Board, the New Zealand Game Industry Board and Federated Farmers.

The letter also reminds farmers that if they suspect an animal is showing signs of the disease, they contact a vet immediately. Signs of BSE include a loss of limb control, trembling, wide-eyed staring, swaying of the head and erratic behaviour including charging. Comprehensive information on BSE is available on the MAF website – www.maf.govt.nz

Fur further information, please contact: Dr Andrew McKenzie, MAF Food Assurance Authority Group Director Ph. 04 474-4250

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