Federated Farmers says the case of a Bay farmer finding part an exotic animal in imported feed supplement highlights the importance of biosecurity measures.
Officials say the foreign animal part was the "lower limb of a small goat or deer not found in New Zealand" and entered the country in a shipment of palm kernel expeller (PKE). It was found on May 12 but the find was only confirmed this week.
Federated Farmers Bay of Plenty provincial president Rick Powdrell believed it was the first incident of its type in the region.
"Obviously there have been rumours in the past but I'd like to commend the farmer for coming forward. This highlights the importance of biosecurity measures to minimise the risk of anything coming into the country," he said.
Ministry for Primary Industries deputy director-general of compliance and response Andrew Coleman said work had started to try to identify what animal species it was.
The leg was about 18cm long and was at the ministry's Wallaceville, Upper Hutt, laboratory.
The find comes after proposed improvements to the biosecurity of palm kernel imported from Malaysia and Indonesia directly into ports including Tauranga.
Federated Farmers vice-president William Rolleston questioned the fact the ministry did not recall the shipment.
"Clearly the shipment was contaminated and that is a breach of the Import Health Standard."
But Mr Coleman defended the decision not to go down that track citing timing, logistics and risk.
"The consignments of PKE arrived in New Zealand in March and April 2013 and by the time MPI was aware of the limb-find the PKE had been distributed and likely used on-farm.
"The consignments are mixed at importer sites, making it difficult to isolate the particular consignment. And our risk assessment advice is that the risk of transmission of disease is very low."
There are strict requirements on palm kernel imports, he said.
"Every shipment of PKE must have been heat treated, fumigated and sourced from an approved facility.
"PKE imports have been assessed as presenting a very low biosecurity risk."
What is it?
Palm Kernel Expeller is a byproduct from the extraction of oil from the kernel of the palm seeds of the oil palm, Elaeis guineensis. The kernels are found inside the shell of the fruit after flesh has been stripped away. It is the mashed solid part of the seed kernels left after oil extraction, which involves many stages. New Zealand agents imported more than 1.5 million tonnes from January 2012 to March 2013. Most comes from Malaysia and Indonesia.