The Ministry for Primary Industries will move to strengthen import processes after part of an animal limb was found in a shipment of cattle food from overseas.
MPI would send a senior manager to Malaysia today and then to Indonesia to work with authorities there after reports from inspectors who visited palm kernel expeller (PKE) meal plants in those countries, said Andrew Coleman, MPI deputy director-general, compliance and response.
The reports concluded that any biosecurity risk from the importation of PKE was very low but the strengthening of import requirements would be accelerated after the discovery of the animal limb part in a PKE shipment.
"The focus will be on working together to ensure that PKE from unapproved facilities cannot be exported to New Zealand. In addition, a small number of processing facilities will need to improve their systems to keep birds and rodents out of the product in storage," Mr Coleman said.
"This work is timely given the recent discovery of the animal limb which was reported to MPI by a Bay of Plenty farmer. The lower part of an animal leg, approximately 18cm in length, has been identified by a zoologist as most likely from a small deer or goat species not present in New Zealand," Mr Coleman says.
Although the risk of the introduction of any animal disease posed by the find was low, MPI sent a vet to the property where they found all animals in excellent health.
"A find like this one is rare, given that approximately 1.5 million tonnes of PKE are imported annually, Mr Coleman said.
PKE was a vital import for New Zealand's dairy farmers who relied on it for supplementary feed.
Currently, every shipment of PKE must meet strict requirements before it can be imported to New Zealand, including heat treatment, fumigation and inspection.
"A further option being considered is a new levy on PKE imports, or an increase to the existing biosecurity levy to increase the level of inspection in these countries. Any such proposal would have to be consulted on and have industry support, " Mr Coleman said.