NZ pork lobby loses appeal over imported raw meat risk

NZ Pork, the lobby group for the nation’s pig farmers, has lost its appeal against changes to import health standards that will allow raw meat from countries with Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) into New Zealand.

The disease, also known as blue-ear pig disease, causes still-born piglets and respiratory illnesses in young pigs. It costs the US swine industry more than US$600 million a year, according to the website.

NZ Pork had challenged the Ministry of Primary Industries’ response to an independent review panel report on raw meat imports which led to the ministry’s decision to issue four new health standards for raw pork.

The new standards are less restrictive than those that have applied since 2001 but MPI director-general Wayne McNee says he is confident they effectively manage the risks of diseases such as PRRS becoming established in New Zealand.

He said under the new standards raw pork may only be imported without further treatment in consumer-ready cuts of less than 3 kilograms, free from lymphatic tissue.

According to NZ Pork, a total of 41,384 tonnes of pork was imported in 2011/2012, of which 97.5 percent was frozen. Canada was the biggest supplier, followed by the US, Finland and Australia.

Total domestic production of pork for 2011/12 was 49,787, down 0.6 percent from 2010/11.

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