Gisborne recycling workers made a shock discovery when human tissue, including a piece of bone, was found in a rubbish bag from the local hospital.
The bag containing the tissue split open when it was being loaded on to a transporter yesterday at the Transpacific AllBrite waste recycling centre.
Tairawhiti District Health chief executive Jim Green today confirmed the incident and said it was an extremely unfortunate but isolated situation.
"It appears human tissue was put into the wrong bag and transported to the transfer station with general rubbish, rather than disposed of in the appropriate manner," Mr Green said.
"A team from the DHB joined transfer station staff for many hours following the discovery, to sort through a huge amount of rubbish to uncover every bag that arrived at the transfer station yesterday from the hospital.
"A thorough search of all hospital rubbish found the tissue was confined to two bags," Mr Green said.
An internal investigation is under way at the hospital.