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25 October, 1996
A Waikato farmer was fined $2,000, and ordered to pay $2,000 towards prosecution costs and $200 solicitors’ fees when he appeared in the Hamilton District Court this week, charged with presenting a bobby calf for slaughter containing residues of sulphonamide drugs. This offence is prosecutable under the Meat Act 1981, and carries a maximum penalty of $20,000.
Gurnam Singh of Tauhei, pleaded guilty to the charge, which related to sending bobby calves to AFFCo’s Horotiu works on 18 September 1995, one of which was selected by MAF for sulphonamide residue testing and returned a positive result. Sulphonamides are used as anti- scours remedies in adult cattle, but their use on bobby calves is banned.
New Zealand exports annually approximately 12,000 tonnes of bobby veal per year which returns to the industry in the region of 40-50 million dollars per year.
The main export for New Zealand bobby veal has traditionally been the United States, which remains New Zealand’s predominant market, although Japan and Europe are also growing markets. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) requires that the product does not contain residues of sulphonamide antibacterials greater than their standards.
The product exported by New Zealand is regularly tested on its arrival at United States ports and if chemical residues over the prescribed levels are found the product is rejected at a cost in excess of $100,000. In addition the next 15 consignments from the specific premises of origin of positive tested product are retained pending analytical testing and only cleared entry upon a negative result.
Almost all of New Zealand’s markets require each exported consignment of meat to be accompanied by an export certificate signed by a representative of the New Zealand government which assures the product has been produced in a manner which meets that market’s requirements. Based on the results of audits which check compliance with the relevant market requirements, Ministry of Agriculture veterinarians in New Zealand sign to this effect.
A positive residue finding, as described above, undermines the credibility of MAF’s assurances to the USDA on the quality of New Zealand meat products and the effectiveness of the controls New Zealand has in place. Such a residue finding therefore has the potential to jeopardise the enviable reputation New Zealand has in the international market place, and threaten market access for its bobby veal.
Debbie Gee, Manager, Corporate Communications (04) 474 4258