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14 March 2001
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has placed a temporary suspension on the importation of certain animal products from European Union countries following the discovery of foot and mouth disease in France.
The Ministry has today revoked all relevant Import Health Standards - the standards that allow the importation of certain risk goods into New Zealand - while it awaits clarification on the foot and mouth status of the affected countries.
Animal Biosecurity Director, Derek Belton, says the suspensions will remain in place until European Union countries have satisfied New Zealand that they are totally free of the disease.
Dr Belton says trade impacts from the suspension are not expected to be large. The products covered by the revoking of the standards include meat and dairy products, by-products, semen, embryos and live cloven hoofed animals.
"This move recognises that we are conscious of the risk associated with the significant amount of animal movement that takes place across Europe," explains Dr Belton.
The United States has put a similar ban in place and Dr Belton says MAF is in regular contact with Europe, North America and Australia regarding their reaction to the French outbreak.
The Ministry has alerted the MAF Quarantine Service to the European developments and travellers arriving from EU countries are now receiving the heightened level of attention that has been given to passengers from other countries with foot and mouth, including the UK.
"These people will be screened and assessed for the likelihood of them bringing in risk products, and will be questioned as to whether they have been on livestock farms," says Dr Belton.
Any risk products found will be confiscated and footwear or outdoor equipment that has been used on or near a farm will be cleaned and/or fumigated.
An outbreak of foot and mouth disease was coincidentally confirmed in Argentina yesterday, and similar protective measures have been put in place.
For further information contact - Derek Belton, Director, Animal Biosecurity phone 04 474-4155 Gita Parsot, Communications Adviser phone 04 498-9806