14 Apr 2011

Pork industry denounces revised import standards

8:20 am on 14 April 2011

Pork industry representatives have criticised a Ministry of Agriculture (MAF) decision to allow imports of uncooked pig meat from countries where the pig disease Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome is endemic.

The new rules specify that the fresh uncooked meat can be imported provided the cuts have had the lymph nodes removed and each weighs no more than three kilograms.

The Ministry says this means the chances of the virus entering the country under those conditions are highly remote.

The issue has been controversial since the issue was first raised in provisional import health standards were released in 2009.

The pork industry challenged them on the grounds Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) could be introduced and MAF revised the standards after an independent Review Panel found them wanting.

Pork New Zealand chief executive Sam McIvor says the industry finds the revised standards no more acceptable than the old ones.

He says Pork New Zealand has done its own rigorous scientifically-based risk assessment and it does not conform with MAF's conclusions that any risk is low.

Mr McIvor says the implications of MAF's decision to allow the imports are wider than just the pork industry and the decision that risks can be managed post the border sets a precedent that could jeopardise the whole primary industry sector and the New Zealand economy.

He says the pork industry will continue to challenge the import health standards and options could include legal action.