MAF publishes analysis on chicken meat imports

7 April 2000

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has released for public consultation a revised risk analysis on chicken meat imports.

The analysis considers chicken meat imports from the United States, and reassesses heat treatment to inactivate Newcastle disease virus.

MAF's first risk analysis on the issue was released for public consultation in March 1999, and a review of the submissions received published in September 1999.

As a result of that consultation process, MAF has reassessed the risks of introducing infectious bursal disease (IBD) virus and Newcastle disease (ND) virus in chicken meat from the US, and has reassessed the heating needed to inactivate ND virus in chicken meat.

Infectious bursal disease virus

Although the revised estimates of the risk of introducing IBD from the US were lower than in the original assessment, they still led to the conclusion that the importation of carcasses and bone-in chicken meat products would require the application of the sanitary measures recommended in the original chicken meat import risk analysis (i.e. flock freedom from IBD).

However, the results indicated that some boneless chicken meat products could safely be sourced from US flocks not free of IBD, provided various sanitary measures were imposed (including limits on vaccination of the birds and the age of birds at slaughter). Should any trade in boneless chicken cuts originating from US flocks not free of IBD virus take place at a level where we could not be 95% confident that the risk of IBD introduction did not exceed 1 per 100 years (which equates to about 500 tonnes per year), then sanitary conditions for the trade will need to be reconsidered. New additional conditions would be needed to bring the estimated risk of the trade to an acceptable level.

Newcastle disease virus

The quantitative model developed to assess the risk of Newcastle disease virus being imported in chicken meat from the US concluded that there is negligible risk of introducing vaccinal strains of the virus. However, given the severe consequences of introducing field strains of ND virus, the analysis concluded that additional assurances are required.

For flocks not able to demonstrate freedom, revised standards for cooking chicken meat to inactivate ND viruses are recommended.

Trade implications

There appears to be real interest from the USA in exporting chicken meat to New Zealand. But before trade could commence, an import health standard based on the risk analysis would have to be negotiated between MAF and the US Department of Agriculture. (The import health standard cannot, in any case, be developed until the Ministry of Health completes their separate analysis of the risks of importing exotic strains of the food-poisoning bacterium Salmonella.) The current risk analysis in respect of IBD relates only to product of US origin. Requests from any other countries to supply product from flocks not free of IBD virus would have to be supported by appropriate data, and would require a further risk analysis by MAF.

Submissions close on 15 June 2000.

For further information contact:

Dr Stuart MacDiarmid, National Manager (Risk Management), Animal Biosecurity, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ph 04 474 4223.

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