Rules are on the importing of palm kernel expeller are to be tightened.
Federated Farmers have been airing concerns about the biosecurity risks from the import of PKE for some time.
Grains executive members Colin McKinnon and David Clark travelled to Malaysia last September for an official Palm Industry Board briefing; they also made an unofficial, unannounced visit to another plant, chosen at random.
They saw PKE in silos open to birds and other animals, and contamination was probable. Product would probably not have met New Zealand’s Import Health Standard, but the mill owner believed it was suitable for export to New Zealand and was willing to sell it to them.
Clark and McKinnon detailed their concerns in a report to MPI in November (Rural News, December 4 and February 19). Late last month, the ministry issued a statement saying it took Feds’ report very seriously. . .
MPI sent two inspectors to PKE meal processing facilities and Malaysia and Indonesia and requirements will be tightened as a result.
The audit reports show good biosecurity systems are in place in the two main PKE-supplying countries, but some tightening up is recommended to ensure New Zealand’s standard is met.
Deputy Director-General, Compliance and Response, Andrew Coleman says the reports conclude that any biosecurity risk from the importation of PKE is very low, but the strengthening of import requirements will be accelerated after a small part of an animal limb was recently discovered in a PKE shipment.
MPI is sending a senior manager to Malaysia today and then on to Indonesia to work with authorities there.
“The focus will be on working together to ensure that PKE from unapproved facilities cannot be exported to New Zealand. In addition, a small number of processing facilities will need to improve their systems to keep birds and rodents out of the product in storage,” Mr Coleman says.
“This work is timely given the recent discovery of the animal limb which was reported to MPI by a Bay of Plenty farmer. The lower part of an animal leg, approximately 18cm in length, has been identified by a zoologist as most likely from a small deer or goat species not present in New Zealand,” Mr Coleman says.
“Our risk assessors have told us that the risk of the introduction of any animal disease posed by this find is very low. However we took the precaution of sending a vet to the property where they found all animals in excellent health.
“A find like this one is rare, given that approximately 1.5 million tonnes of PKE are imported annually.”
PKE is a vital import for New Zealand’s dairy farmers who rely on it for supplementary feed – particularly now in the aftermath of the summer’s drought and with the onset of winter.
“The changes we are introducing will help strengthen our system further,” Mr Coleman says. Currently every shipment of PKE must meet strict requirements before it can be imported to New Zealand, including heat treatment, fumigation and inspection.
“A further option being considered is a new levy on PKE imports, or an increase to the existing biosecurity levy to increase the level of inspection in these countries. Any such proposal would have to be consulted on and have industry support. MPI is now beginning work on various options for consultation.”