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Ruminant protein regulations under review


Ruminant protein regulations under review

Submissions are being sought on the review of the Biosecurity (Ruminant Protein) Regulations 1999.

Peter Kettle, Director Biosecurity and Science Policy for the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) said the review would provide greater assurances to international markets that New Zealand operates a vigilant programme to prevent the use of ruminant protein in feed prepared for ruminant animals.

“The spread of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) to several European countries, Israel and Japan may have occurred through animal feed contaminated with ruminant protein.”

“Although New Zealand is free from BSE, scrapie and other transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), we must, as a trading nation, be able to demonstrate that we are maintaining an effective feed ban," he said.

The review will focus on a number of key areas including whether the current prohibition on feeding ruminant protein to ruminants should be extended to include other animal proteins. This will simplify the options for a testing protocol in that it will no longer have to distinguish between ruminant and non-ruminant protein in the sample. Any evidence of specified animal protein will be seen as a breach of the regulations.

Dr Kettle said there also needs to be clarification of the regulations as they apply to the practice of irrigating pasture with wastewater from the slaughter and processing of ruminants.

“While this practice is not prohibited, MAF wants to make explicit that wastewater must be screened and the pasture must not be grazed at times when it is visibly contaminated. MAF also recommends that fertilisers based on ruminant meat, blood and bone meals are not applied on any paddocks intended for grazing,” he said.

The review will also consider how three complementary pieces of legislation – the Biosecurity Act 1993, the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act 1997, and the Animal Product Acts 1999 – can most effectively be used to cover the myriad of issues associated with ruminant protein controls.

Other proposals in the discussion paper include introducing a charge for registering ruminant protein control programmes, classifying existing absolute liability offences in the regulations as strict liability offences, exempting certain highly processed ruminant products from the feed ban and ensuring that only protein-free tallow may be included in ruminant feed.

Finally, MAF is also seeking feedback on the impact of the current regulations introduced in 1999 and how this can be used to develop practical and effective policies to ensure New Zealand remains free of TSEs.

These regulations were introduced as a direct response to the threat that feeding of ruminant protein to ruminants could spread TSEs such as BSE. They required that operators of diversified feed mills whose feed formulations include ruminant protein must register and implement ruminant protein control programmes. Secondly, every renderer, feed mill and feed supplier must ensure that animal feeds and fertilisers containing ruminant protein are labelled.

Electronic copies of the discussion paper are available at: www.maf.govt.nz/ruminant-protein-review


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