18 May 2013

No food safety issues for stranded meat in China

6:12 pm on 18 May 2013

The Government says there are no food safety issues around consignments of New Zealand meat delayed on the wharves in China.

The container loads of frozen sheep and beef have been held up for nearly a week after a name change on documents, from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to the Ministry for Primary Industries, apparently confused the Chinese.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says beef and sheep meat is affected but other products such as dairy are getting through without any hold-ups.

Mr Guy says chilled meat is being given priority by officials and frozen meat is being refrigerated while the issues are sorted out.

Federated Farmers meanwhile is confident the Government is working quickly to move on the stranded meat.

Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills said the Chinese market is very important to New Zealand. He understands the situation will be resolved very soon.

The ministry says it's not yet clear how much meat is involved.

Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye confirmed there are no food safety issues around the meat consignments.

The ministers said Primary Industries and Foreign Affairs are working around the clock to provide technical information, documentation and assurances from New Zealand, so Chinese officials can proceed with clearance.