7 Aug 2009

MAF agrees to review over pork imports

2:36 pm on 7 August 2009

The Ministry of Agriculture has agreed to the Pork Industry Board's request for an independent review of its proposed rules for pig meat imports.

MAF Biosecurity released a provisional Import Health Standard earlier this year that would allow imports of consumer-ready cuts of uncooked pork from countries such as Canada, the EU, Mexico and the United States.

The pork industry is concerned that the imported meat may introduce the disease Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome or PRRS from these countries.

The industry doesn't accept MAF's view that conditions proposed in the standard would be enough to keep PRRS out of New Zealand and asked for an independent review.

MAF will seek nominations for a review panel before the end of this month. The panel is expected to report its findings and recommendations to MAF's director general within 90 days of starting work.

The independent review system was used for the first time to investigate MAF Biosecurity's proposal to allow honey and bee product imports from Australia, after a successful legal challenge from the New Zealnd bee industry.

The Ministry is at present considering its response to that panel's findings, which have questioned some of MAF's assumptions and scientific reasoning.