29 Apr 2010

Ministry told to look again at pig meat import rules

9:22 pm on 29 April 2010

An independent expert panel has told the Ministry of Agriculture it has to go back to the drawing board on its provisional standards for pig meat imports.

In its review of proposed rules that would allow imports of consumer-ready cuts of uncooked pork from Canada, the European Union, Mexico and the United States, the panel has questioned MAF's assumptions and scientific reasoning.

It has recommended the ministry looks at 29 deficiencies, including its import risk assessment.

The pork industry asked for the review last year because it feared the standards weren't enough to keep the disease Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) out of New Zealand.

Pork Industry Board chief executive Sam McIvor says its pleased that the panel has recognised its concerns.

MAF is considering the report and says it will meet pork industry representatives on Friday.

This is the second time an independent review has found fault with a MAF Biosecurity import health standard.

The first was last year on its decision to allow honey and bee product imports from Australia, which the New Zealand bee industry successfully challenged in court.

That review also told MAF to reassess its findings, and that work is continuing.