News 474 views last update:Nov 15, 2007

NZ: Possible lifting of import ban on pork

Plans to relax import rules for some uncooked pork from countries with outbreaks of pig diseases have been announced yesterday by the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry's biosecurity division.

Four draft import health standards were put forward for consultation regarding pigmeat imported from the European Union, Canada, the US and Mexico. Around 42% of pork sold in New Zealand is imported, but only from countries where the pigmeat is treated if outbreaks of pig disease had occurred there.

Five-year analysis
Based on a five-year risk analysis for porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) virus in countries outside of New Zealand and Australia, the new standards were requested by exporting countries. Pig farmers, however, were opposed to the standards because of concerns that potentially infected uncooked pork could be fed to 'backyard pigs' in the countries in question.

A proposal by the Ministry of Agriculture involves permitting imported pork that has not been treated if it is in a ready-to-cook form or can be immediately processed into this form.

According to Tim Knox, director of border standards, Biosecurity New Zealand, "the virus is very unlikely to be present in imported ready-to-cook cuts as European studies have proved that around 99% of the PRRS virus is destroyed by normal commercial preparation of pork for shipping."

Public submissions on the issue will be considered until February 18, 2008 as the consultation period has been extended for 90 days due to major concerns over the issue among pig farmers.

Related website:

• Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, New Zealand

• Biosecurity New Zealand

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