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MAF Cancels Pet Food Company's Operating Licence

The owner of a Canterbury pet food processing company has had his licence to operate cancelled by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, following investigations in the wake of the death of a Sumatran tiger at Wellington Zoo late last year.

The MAF Food Assurance Authority's Director of Animal Products, Tony Zohrab, says licensing restrictions were put in place immediately, suspending operations at the 'Dogs Delight' factory while it was investigated.

The investigation focussed on the company's compliance with MAF standards and how material, destined for pet food, became contaminated with the animal euthanasing drug pentabarbitone. Test results had shown the dead tiger's stomach contained pet food contaminated with the drug.

"The investigations uncovered a wide range of breaches of the licence conditions including the unauthorised slaughter of animals at the premises, the processing of unsuitable meat and the non-compliance with labelling and identification requirements for pet food product," Mr Zohrab says.

It's suspected the tiger death came about through an inadequate separation between two arms of the licence holder's business. As well as being licensed to put down and process the meat from injured animals (known as emergency slaughter), he also ran a dead-stock disposal business, removing and disposing of carcasses (sometimes medically euthanased) from farms.

"There was a problem in that animals legitimately slaughtered and destined for processing, were being carried on the same truck as stock which had been euthanased and was being carted for disposal."

Mr Zohrab says the licence breaches have resulted in an event that has created risks for the entire pet food industry - an industry worth some $203 million a year in export earnings."

A decision on any possible legal action is anticipated within the next month.


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