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 $US600 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.

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

According to NZ Pork, a total of 41,384 tonnes of pork was imported in 2011-12, 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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Good news for the consumer and a message to other industries that have been sheltered to a certain extent by foreign exports not becoming established in the NZ market. Think of how building costs would reduce if James Hardie crossed the Tasman in a concerted way.

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Anonymous clearly knows very little about the pork industry in NZ when he/she implies it is "sheltered to a certain extent". NZ has had to face dumping from Canada, and imports of +/- 45% of the market is hardly sheltered.

Ask the pig farmers who are currently voting by exiting the industry.

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Anonymous, there is no sheltering of the NZ pork industry. Unlike most meats, NZ pork faces huge imported competition. The point which you seem to be missing is that this allows a certain type of meat to be imported that risks the whole NZ industry. Do you think it will be good news for the NZ consumer when the only fresh pork they can eat is priced out of their reach? The risk of PRRS disease is high, given this ruling, and it could seriously jeopardise the NZ industry, which is the only supplier of truly fresh pork. People like you seem to be willing to jeopardise NZ's clean green agri image just to get a cheaper priced (and inferior) import for the consumer. Your analogy with the NZ building sector is completely misguided.

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Why would anyone listen to MPI after their track record on biosecurity in the last 10 years. Asian gypsy moth, Queensland fruit fly, varroa mite, psa disease ... just a few of the examples of MPI's ability to "effectively manage risks" in the last 10 years.

As the NZ government has given up on protecting NZ interests, can those of you who work in the pork industry please ensure your product packaging prominently shows that it is made in New Zealand and contains no imported meat product.
That would certainly help some consumers make the right decision, given that importers rely on the ambiguity provided by NZ's sloppy food labelling laws.

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