Palm kernel bone scare a fizzer

JON MORGAN
Last updated 16:32 26/06/2013

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Part of an animal leg found in palm kernel expeller (PKE) on a Bay of Plenty farm is not from a Malaysian goat or deer as thought earlier.

It is from a New Zealand sheep.

It leaves Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) officials red-faced after last week blaming poor biosecurity measures at a Malaysian palm kernel store.

Opposition parties and Federated Farmers also responded angrily, pointing the finger at the ministry's procedures and saying it should have acted quickly to trace the shipment and stop its dispersal.

MPI deputy director general Andrew Coleman said DNA testing had confirmed the local origin of the 18 centimetre piece of leg.

"The farm where the limb was found has sheep, home kill is undertaken, the maggots found on the limb were a species of blowfly found in New Zealand, and most of the PKE supplied goes through a 4-millimetre filter."

The misidentification was made by an independent zoologist and had been contrary to the ministry's view that the leg find was from a New Zealand animal.

The Government has made changes to the Import Health Standard for PKE to confirm that it cannot be exported from unapproved sources and a ministry official is visiting Malaysia and Indonesia to work on these with authorities.

In addition, a few processing facilities will need to improve their systems to keep birds and rodents out of storage facilities.

Coleman thanked the Bay of Plenty farmer for bringing the find to the ministry's attention.

"It is a good example of the important role farmers play in our biosecurity system. Farmers know what's happening on their farms.

"If they spot anything of biosecurity concern they should ring our 0800 number, that's what happened here."

If anyone has any information regarding a possible biosecurity risk, they should call the MPI pest and diseases hotline on 0800 80 99 66.

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- The Dominion Post

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