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MAF stuff-up over equine flu unacceptable

Shane Ardern MP
National Party Biosecurity Spokesman

8 April 2008

MAF stuff-up over equine flu unacceptable

National's Biosecurity spokesman, Shane Ardern, says MAF Biosecurity's error over its equine influenza testing regime is unacceptable.

MAF officials have admitted that they got it wrong, after 10 horses imported from the United States in March tested positive in New Zealand despite being cleared of the horse flu when they left the US.

"MAF Biosecurity was forced to conduct a second round of tests on the original samples and it was only then that the initial positive test result was found to be erroneous due to contamination in the laboratory.

"MAF Biosecurity had the advantage of a test run with the Australian experience and still managed to stuff it up.

"It's a worry when an organisation like this fails to ensure a robust and accurate testing regime.

"This mistake had the potential to have a major impact on a multibillion-dollar industry.

"I don't want to imagine the damage that a false negative result could have had.

"I am re-assured by reports that MAF Biosecurity will use the results of its internal investigation to identify ways to reduce the likelihood of cross-contamination in the future."


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