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New Zealand fears for PRRS contamination

New Zealand risks having its pig herds devastated by a disease, an animal health expert has said in a reaction to proposed changes of import regulations.

The country's regualtory authority, Biosecurity New Zealand, proposes to change the import health standards of pork, which would allow chilled meat to be imported; it currently has to be treated or frozen.


According to Massey University animal health professor Roger Morris there is a big risk that a highly contagious disease like Porcine Respiratory and Reproductive Syndrome (PRRS) could enter New Zealand.


However, Biosecurity New Zealand says measures have been put in place to reduce the likelihood of PRRS becoming established in this country, such as only allowing high-value cuts of imported pig meat, such as pork chops, to reduce the risk of scraps becoming food waste.


Stepped up
Biosecurity also says it has also stepped up public education campaigns to ensure people are aware of a ban on feeding pig meat to pigs.


PRRS is the number one enemy for the pork industry internationally, with New Zealand and Australia being two of very few countries in the world that are free of this devastating disease.


Research shows that feeding food waste to pigs can infect them and new strains of the virus continue to be identified.


Major flaws
New Zealand Pork Industry Board chairman, Chris Trengrove, also gave a warning. He said there were major flaws in Biosecurity New Zealand's analysis of technical data.


He said the proposal to relax current controls on imported meat to allow untreated pork into New Zealand from countries where PRRS was endemic, was potentially disastrous and there were important principles at stake which concerned other industries as well as the pig industry.


"Knowingly releasing risk material into New Zealand, with reliance on ineffective post-border controls will make effective control of the disease risk to New Zealand pigs an impossible task."


Related websites:
• New Zealand Pork Industry Board
• Massey University
• Biosecurity New Zealand


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