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A big call on imported pig meat

20 March 2013

A big call on imported pig meat

With the Court of Appeal dismissing NZPork’s appeal over the Import Health Standard for imported pig meat, Federated Farmers believes this now leaves considerable uncertainty.

“We were not surprised at the outcome because the Court of Appeal case was limited to an examination of process and not science,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Food Production spokesperson.

“It seems inevitable raw pork will be imported from countries which have the Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS).

“On the basis of risk analysis alone, Federated Farmers remains unconvinced the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) decision to relax the Import Health Standard is the correct one.

“We accept that the Pork Industry is genuinely concerned about disease risk and is not attempting to use PRRS as a non-tariff trade barrier.

“We say this because New Zealand not only imports processed pork products from around the globe, but we import pig meat from Australia and other PRRS free countries.

“New Zealand’s PRRS free status was one tangible advantage to our domestic industry, not to mention, the obvious benefit to animal health and welfare.

“Yet the science over the risk of PRRS entering New Zealand in imported pig meat seems uncertain at best.

“One concern is consumer ready pork in packages up to three kilograms in weight. Three kilograms seems a lot of meat for a consumer and implies there will be further trimming in hotels, institutions or by butchers.

“This trimming raises a big question over what will happen to the waste.

“The biosecurity issue is less about commercial piggeries, but rather, the thousands of pigs in backyards. MPI has no convincing plan to enforce feeding regulations on those backyards where almost no controls exist over what these animals are fed let alone animal health. These uncontrolled backyards become the possible vector for PRRS.

“Now that Court action looks like it is out of the way, Federated Farmers asks the MPI to reassess the Import Health Standard in light of the information provided by experts in the Pork Industry.

“We believe there is no issue with World Trade Organisation rules as long as any reassessment is based upon good science.

“Should the Import Heath Standard be implemented, responsibility will fall on the MPI to ensure regulations can be enforced pre-border, at the border and in backyards too,” Dr Rolleston concluded.

ENDS

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