October 9, 2023


New Zealand's pork industry seeks suspension of pork imports from ASF-affected countries



New Zealand's pork sector is calling for a ban on pork imported from countries with African swine fever (ASF) until New Zealand receives assurances that robust biosecurity protocols are in place in nations impacted by the disease.


NZPork is urging the country's Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to halt pork products imported from trading partners affected by ASF and carry out an urgent assessment of those countries' biosecurity systems.


NZPork chief executive Brent Kleiss said it was very concerning that New Zealand continued to accept pork from ASF-infected countries, including Sweden, when a number of others had halted imports due to the disease.


"Armenia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Ukraine, as well as Australia, have all now banned pork imports from Sweden," Kleiss said. "Without swift action, we can expect to see even more Swedish pork entering the New Zealand market. In previous outbreaks, in Belgium and Poland, we saw a sharp rise in pork imports from those countries as other markets closed but our own border remained open to these products."


MPI says on its website it is taking the threat from ASF extremely seriously and is closely monitoring the situation overseas. It says unprocessed (fresh or frozen pork) can only be imported from ASF-free countries, zones or regions. All other imported pork products must undergo a heat treatment process that destroys the ASF virus.


It also adds that Biosecurity New Zealand receives rapid notifications of ASF disease outbreaks globally and continually reviews import conditions for pig products to ensure they are appropriate.


Kleiss said MPI had previously cited the strong risk assessment conducted on imports and the low risk posed by the goods and their origins as a reason for not reviewing biosecurity measures for imported pork.


"However, the risk has clearly changed," Kleiss added. "The landscape is vastly different since this risk calculation was last done. Pork is now arriving in greater volumes from different countries, many of which were not afflicted with diseases like ASF or porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) when the initial assessments were conducted.


"We need to bring a halt to pork being imported by ASF countries and for the Government to check those countries with ASF have acceptable protocols in place.


"Our pig farmers operate to the most rigorous biosecurity standards but the threat to the industry is ever present. A significant concern is that ASF could enter New Zealand and spread through feeding of untreated infected imported food scraps to pigs."

- NZ Herald

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