Report warns of poultry imports safety threat

NEW ZEALAND - A new report for the poultry industry warns of major potential costs if allowing fresh chicken imports compromises New Zealand's freedom from avian diseases.

Imports of raw chicken meat are banned under the Biosecurity Act but the Poultry Industry Association says there is constant pressure for access from countries like Brazil, the US and Thailand.

The report from Charles River Associates for the association noted New Zealand had not had a recorded case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) or exotic Newcastle disease (END) - two lethal, contagious poultry diseases that periodically infect flocks around the world.

An Australian study on a hypothetical END outbreak in New South Wales suggested chicken deaths could result in consumers having to pay A$109 million ($132.74 million) extra over a year for chicken, assuming no imports were allowed to help make up the shortfall.

A 1983 outbreak of HPAI in Pennsylvania had led to 17 million birds being destroyed, with consumers having to pay an extra US$349 million ($572.5 million) more for protein foods over six months as a result of poultry shortages.

The report said it was difficult to gauge what implications these studies had for the costs of a disease outbreak in New Zealand. For example, the effectiveness of measures to contain the spread of disease would have a strong bearing on costs.

Source: New Zealand Herald
calendar icon 3 July 2006
clock icon 1 minute read
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