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15 May 2002
The owner of a Canterbury pet food processing company has had his licence to
operate cancelled by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, following
investigations in the wake of the death of a Sumatran tiger at Wellington Zoo
late last year.
The MAF Food Assurance Authority's Director of Animal Products, Tony Zohrab,
says licensing restrictions were put in place immediately, suspending operations
at the 'Dogs Delight' factory while it was investigated.
The investigation focussed on the company's compliance with MAF standards and
how material, destined for pet food, became contaminated with the animal
euthanasing drug pentabarbitone. Test results had shown the dead tiger's stomach
contained pet food contaminated with the drug.
"The investigations uncovered a wide range of breaches of the licence
conditions including the unauthorised slaughter of animals at the premises, the
processing of unsuitable meat and the non-compliance with labelling and
identification requirements for pet food product," Mr Zohrab says.
It's suspected the tiger death came about through an inadequate separation
between two arms of the licence holder's business. As well as being licensed to
put down and process the meat from injured animals (known as emergency
slaughter), he also ran a dead-stock disposal business, removing and disposing
of carcasses (sometimes medically euthanased) from farms.
"There was a problem in that animals legitimately slaughtered and
destined for processing, were being carried on the same truck as stock which had
been euthanased and was being carted for disposal."
Mr Zohrab says the licence breaches have resulted in an event that has
created risks for the entire pet food industry - an industry worth some $203
million a year in export earnings."
A decision on any possible legal action is anticipated within the next month.
For further information, contact:
Tony Zohrab, Director of Animal
Products, MAF Food Assurance Authority tel: 021 673 423 or Christine Morrison,
Acting Director, Communications 04 498 9806