DCD suspension supported

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The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) supports today’s announcement by Ravensdown and Ballance Agri-Nutrients that they have voluntarily suspended sales and use of Dicyandiamide (DCD) treatment on farm land until further notice.

“Once we knew that even very low levels of DCD residues found in milk may present a trade issue, MPI set up a working group to assess the impact of that, even though there is no food safety concern associated with the use of DCD,” Carol Barnao, MPI Deputy Director General Standards says.

Consumers’ have high expectations of New Zealand food and the regulations we have in place to ensure its quality and safety, Ms Barnao says.

“The crux of this is that there is no internationally set standard for DCD residues in food. This is because DCD has not been considered to have any impact on food safety.

“Because no standard exists, the detectable presence of DCD residues in milk could be unacceptable to consumers and our international markets, even in the small amounts found in recent testing. Food regulators around the world are reflecting market demands with increasingly rigorous testing and in some countries there is a zero tolerance to detected residues outside agreed standards.

“New Zealand’s reputation is based on the high quality of food we produce, so MPI is working across the board with primary producers to manage potential concerns for our markets and consumers.

“DCD has been used in New Zealand farming in a unique and innovative way and MPI has supported its development to address key environmental issues.

“Its application directly onto farm land is one of the more promising ways of reducing nitrate leaching to waterways and greenhouse gas emissions from farming, particularly dairying, as well as promoting pasture growth.”

MPI will work actively with other organisations to investigate what this suspension means in terms of the future use of DCD in farming, including the impact on water quality requirements.

“Given DCD’s environmental benefits, the working group will continue to assess its future use in a way that meets trade requirements,” Ms Barnao says.

“We appreciate there may be some impact on the small number of dairy farmers that use DCD but believe this action is in the best interests of maintaining New Zealand’s reputation as a quality food supplier.”

In December 2012, MPI set up a working group with industry to assess the use of DCD on farm land that might result in residues in food.

The working group was established after advice to MPI in November 2012 of the detection of the occasional presence of low levels of DCD in dairy products coinciding with the times of the year that DCD is applied (autumn, winter and spring).

The working group is made up of dairy company Fonterra, the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ), Ravensdown, Ballance Agri-Nutrients, and staff from MPI.

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