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New Zealand authorities strengthen protection for human and animal health

New Zealand authorities today moved to further protect public and animal health following news that a cow in Canada had tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

Tim Knox, New Zealand Food Safety Authority Director, said today “In light of this latest news, we are reviewing the measures that currently apply to beef products imported from Canada to ensure that public health protection is maintained.”

“We have today put a hold on any consignments of beef products arriving from Canada until such time as we have further information regarding the situation there. Imports of beef and beef products from Canada have occurred sporadically, but it is not a significant trade.”

In addition, MAF’s Biosecurity Authority has stopped any importation of live cattle, llamas and alpacas and other ruminant material from Canada such as serum and inedible by-products. This is in addition to the already stringent measures New Zealand has in place to protect our animal populations.

“New Zealand is free of all transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) of animals, such as BSE. New Zealand has not imported any live cattle from Canada since 1997. Those cattle that we have imported from Canada are today being traced and checked,” said Carolyn Hini, Acting Director Animal Biosecurity.

Dairy products, cattle semen and embryos do not transmit BSE and are not affected.

New Zealand does not allow the importation of meat and bone meal from ruminants from all countries. New Zealand also has an extensive surveillance programme in place to confirm our ongoing freedom from BSE and other related diseases.

The stringent measures required by New Zealand for imports of beef and beef products for human consumption were developed in conjunction with the Ministry of Health (the function has now gone to NZFSA) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

“We have full confidence in the competence of the Canadian authorities to investigate the circumstances of this case of BSE and to move immediately to take whatever action is required.”

“Protecting New Zealand public and animal health is top priority for both agencies and the measures we have introduced today will provide further health assurance for New Zealand consumers and our primary production sector” said Tim Knox.

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