NZ Biosecurity Measures to Protect Against Foot-and-Mouth Disease

4-minute read

Since the foot-and-mouth disease was found in Indonesia recently, Biosecurity New Zealand have stepped up their work at the border to prevent the virus from arriving in New Zealand.

New Zealand does not currently have any flights directly from Bali or elsewhere in Indonesia to New Zealand.

Nevertheless, every passenger arrival card is examined, and those from countries that have Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD), including Indonesia, are directed to a different process of questioning, baggage search and disinfection.

Where passengers transit other airports, risks are still addressed.

“All mail products that come into New Zealand from Indonesia are x-rayed and checked by dogs. We risk- assess, and our quarantine officers are checking all cargo containers coming from Indonesia,” says deputy director-general for Biosecurity New Zealand, Stuart Anderson.

Mr Anderson says that an FMD outbreak would be a national biosecurity emergency and the response would be swift and drastic by testing herds and destroying diseased animals immediately.

“It would all happen very quickly,” he said. “An FMD outbreak would be a major response, requiring contributions from across government and industry, similar to the covid-19 pandemic.”

Even if the disease was confined to a small part of NZ, the entire country would be essentially locked down within the first three days.

“All it would take is a few particles of the disease to walk into New Zealand on a pair of jandals for billions of dollars to be lost,” said National’s agriculture spokesperson, Barbara Kuriger.

There are also concerns it could be brought in through contaminated animal products, such as ham, salami or waste containing meat products, which are then fed to pigs.

“We are committed to constantly reassessing our multi-layered biosecurity settings as we have done in recent weeks with regard to FMD,” Mr Anderson said.

“Those settings include risk assessments of all arrivals and cargo, 100% screening of all checked in and cabin baggage, detector dogs and very strong import health standards.”

Australian officials have advised that viral fragments had been found on some pork products.

“They have told us that what was found in the food was not live virus, but a trace viral fragment.

“Viral fragments are not infectious and could not transfer live virus to another animal. It is not unusual for non-infectious viral fragments to be found in food,” Mr Anderson said.

The product was an imported dried “pork floss” product that may have been illegally imported to Australia and was being recalled as a precaution for that reason.

Any illegal product found in New Zealand would be destroyed.

“There’s no indication that there is a heightened risk to New Zealand. We have among the strictest import health standards and biosecurity settings in the world for pork and other meat products coming into New Zealand.

“Pork floss can be legally imported to countries like New Zealand and Australia if it follows strict import health standards, such as the use of heat treatment.

“As an extra precaution, Biosecurity New Zealand will undertake market surveillance to double check product available here is legally imported,” Mr Anderson said.

Travellers will not be allowed to bring personal consignments of any meat products from Indonesia to New Zealand in the latest step to protect against FMD, says Mr Anderson.

NZ Biosecurity Measures to Protect Against Foot-and-Mouth Disease 2

“While Indonesia continues to step up its FMD response, we are taking an extra precaution and stopping travellers from bringing in personal consignments of any meat product”.

“Previously travellers from Indonesia could bring in declared cooked or treated meat, with the highest risk uncooked meat products already prohibited. Given the importance of protecting our vital primary sector, this is a good further step to take for now.

“From today, any personal consignments of meat from Indonesia, including cooked, will not be allowed in, and we will reassess the suspension at the appropriate time.”

Stuart Anderson said any meat products brought in by travellers from Indonesia would be safely destroyed. The rule change did not affect commercial products, which faced strict import standards.

Last week, Biosecurity and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said Biosecurity New Zealand will begin using foot mats with disinfecting chemicals for arrivals from Indonesia to step onto in a trial to help ensure their footwear is clean of the virus – adding another layer of protection to the measures introduced in mid-month.

“With FMD recently found in the tourist hotspot of Bali, we’ve taken concrete steps to boost our work at the border in recent weeks, including a public awareness campaign,” said Mr O’Connor.

“The Government has made significant biosecurity investments in recent years, this includes $110.9 million in Budget 2022, of which $21.2 million is to boost critical diagnostic, surveillance and investigative capability and heightened readiness for foot-and-mouth and other high-impact animal diseases,” Mr O’Connor said.

Recent measures

• A wide-reaching awareness campaign targeting travellers before they travel to Indonesia, through in-flight announcements and on arrival at International airports.
• An on-the-ground audit of the palm kernel supply chain in Indonesia.
• Biosecurity New Zealand FMD Readiness Taskforce to ensure preparedness work is refreshed.
• Regular updates to primary sector partners and the veterinary network and working with the former to ensure their farmers remain vigilant.
• Providing personal protective equipment, disinfectant, backpack sprayers and other tools to Indonesia to help on the ground, as well as technical expertise.

Source: The New Zealand Shipping Gazette / Ministry for Primary Industries / BusinessDesk

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