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Ministry Supports Suspension

1 February 2001

THE Ministry of Health supports the move by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to suspend the importation of deer velvet from Canada, and the United States where Chronic Wasting Disease has been identified in some elk herds.

Deer velvet is available in New Zealand as a dietary supplement.

Chief Advisor Medical, Dr Colin Feek said there is no evidence that CWD can be transmitted from animals to humans and the ban is purely a precautionary measure.

"This ban is a case of erring very strongly on the side of caution.

"There is no evidence that CWD can be transmitted from animals to humans or by consuming deer velvet taken from deer known to be infected with the disease, but until more research is done and conclusive evidence found to determine if and how the disease is transmitted, precautionary action must be taken to ensure the health and safety of the consumer is protected."


For more information contact: Selina Gentry, Media Advisor, ph: 04-496-2483 or 025-277-5411 Internet address:

Background Information

How is deer velvet classified? Controlled under the Dietary Supplements Regulations 1985.

The regulations define "dietary supplements," state the maximum daily doses for some nutrients, list food additive permission and labelling requirements. As with other foods, it is the manufacturer's/importer's responsibility to ensure their products are safe and comply with the legal requirements (ie no approval is required, the Food Act 1981 refers).

Dietary supplements may only be distributed for a therapeutic purpose, after receiving consent (ie as a medicine) from the Minister of Health under the Medicines Act 1981.

Dietary supplement and medicine legal requirements are not currently harmonised or mutually recognised between Australia and New Zealand. Therefore, Australia and New Zealand have separate requirements Some foods currently sold as dietary supplement products, may in the future be covered under the Australian Food Standards Code. For example, sport foods, electrolyte drinks, protein powders.

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