An Anzco Foods Five Star Beef feedlot in Canterbury has been issued with a "notice of direction" from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) after being suspected of having Mycoplasma bovis following an intake of 44 cattle from a supplier, the company said.

The feedlot has been the subject of an RNZ Checkpoint investigation, which raised questions about the environmental impacts and animal welfare at the site.

A notice of direction from MPI aims to prevent further spread of the disease. It means cattle can only move off the farm with a permit.

Anzco Foods is one of New Zealand's largest exporters with an annual turnover of $1.45b and nearly 3000 employees globally.


The company, which is involved in farming, feedlotting, processing, manufacturing and marketing, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Itoham Yonekyu Holdings of Japan.

Anzco's Five Star Beef unit is New Zealand's only large-scale commercial feedlot operation, according to its website.

"The cattle are suspected to have been infected before they arrived at Five Star Beef and quarantine protocols were implemented immediately following notification of these animals of interest," Anzco chief executive Peter Conley said in a statement.

MPI has said Mycoplasma bovis is not a food safety risk and there is no issue with eating beef from infected herds.

Conley said the company was working closely with MPI on a plan to manage the impact of Mycoplasma bovis on the property.

"There is no risk of Mycoplasma bovis spreading from Five Star Beef because all cattle arriving at the property for finishing ultimately go direct to slaughter," Conley said.

In addition, neighbouring farms were some distance from cattle on the property, he said.

Conley said Five Star Beef had "received attention" in recent days from a group questioning the merits of grain-finishing animals on feedlots in New Zealand.

"This issue is unrelated to the current challenges Five Star Beef is facing with Mycoplasma bovis," he said.

"Any farm infected by Mycoplasma bovis is going through a very difficult time because of the uncertainty and stress associated with it," he said.

Conley said animal welfare is a high priority for Five Star Beef. "It is not in its interests to compromise on animal welfare" he said.

Five Star Beef is one of a number of farms that have tested positive for Mycoplasma bovis since July 2017.

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