The discovery of an animal limb in imported PKE last week raised concerns about biosecurity.
The Ministry for Primary Industries today confirmed that further DNA testing carried out on an animal limb, recently discovered by a Bay of Plenty farmer in some PKE, is from a sheep, not an exotic goat or deer as suspected last week.
Deputy Director General Compliance and Response, Andrew Coleman says,
“An independent genetic laboratory has confirmed the limb is from a sheep, and MPI is confident it is a New Zealand sheep. The farm where the limb was found has sheep, home kill is undertaken, the maggots found on the limb were a species of blowfly found in New Zealand, and most of the PKE supplied goes through a 4mm filter.
“While our risk assessors told us that the risk of the introduction of any animal disease posed by this find was very low, it was important for us to take action.
“These latest results confirm our initial thinking that the leg belonged to a local animal. Interim testing by an independent zoologist suggested that it could have been from an exotic deer or goat. However, this validation testing has disproved that.
“Changes have already been made to the Import Health Standard for PKE to confirm that 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 storage facilities.
“These changes came into effect on 19 June and a senior official is now working on these changes with authorities in Malaysia and Indonesia.
“I would like to thank the Bay of Plenty farmer for bringing this find to our attention. It is a good example of the important role farmers play in our biosecurity system. Farmers know what’s happening on their farms. If they spot anything of biosecurity concern they should ring our 0800 number, that’s what happened here.”
If anyone has any information regarding a possible biosecurity risk, they should call the MPI pest and diseases hotline on 0800 80 99 66.
Biosecurity incursions are a very real risk to the health of our plants, animals and economy.
Regulations on the importation of PKE have been tightened, which is sensible. They should continue to be monitored but we don’t have any grounds for prohibiting the imports.
Our policies must be based on facts and science or we risk being guilty of imposing unwarranted non-tariff barriers and that too would carry economic risks.