15 Aug 2014

Contaminants may not be oil - MPI

4:21 pm on 15 August 2014

It may not be the milk everybody would want in their cup of tea, but the Ministry for Primary Industries says its tests show that milk from Taranaki's oil industry waste dairy farms is safe.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has investigated oil waste on dairy farms in Taranaki.

Photo: PHOTO NZ

The hydrocarbon toluene, the metal barium, mineral oil long-chain hydrocarbons and polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, were detected on some of the farms.

But the Ministry said there were no food safety issues at the levels detected.

Its deputy director general Scott Gallagher said milk from 17 dairy farms in Taranaki where oil industry waste was disposed was tested at three labs - as well as milk from three control farms from outside the region.

He said the contaminants that were detected may not have originated from oil industry waste.

"The testing does not indicate that there is a direct correlation," he said. "The three control farms were nowhere near any oil exploration activity. Using the three control farms as our control, when we compare those results to the 17 farms we tested from the Taranaki region, the test results do not give us a significant variation."

The test results actually showed the three control farms did not have traces of PBDEs nor mineral oil long chain hydrocarbons that were picked up on several of the oil waste farms.

There are no rules in place on the oil waste farms to protect livestock and well-publicised animal welfare concerns recently led to the Government setting up a working group to address the issue.

But when it comes to animal welfare concerns on the farms, Mr Gallagher has a bob each way.

"On all of the information we have, it's not triggering any cause for concern," he said. "If anyone has specific incidences where they believe any of our high levels of aniumal welfare are being breached, I would urge them to contact the Ministry ASAP for us to investigate and get to the bottom of it."

Radio New Zealand understands that the Government working group will meet for the first time next week.

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