In conversation with David Baines, general manager, NZ Pork
With a growing number of biosecurity risks that would be potentially devastating to New Zealand’s pig farming sector, restaurants and cafés have a role to play in helping protect the local industry, worth over $750 million to the economy.
NZ Pork general manager David Baines said a number of operators throughout New Zealand’s restaurant and hospitality sector have a close relationship with local pig farmers.
“Not only do our farmers provide a great source of fresh, tasty pork, bacon and ham products, some food outlets also recover food waste to supply to farmers as an addition to their pig’s diets,” said Baines.
“And while this is a well-intentioned practice that has grown up out of a long tradition of using pigs as great food recyclers, unfortunately, unless the recovered or leftover food is very carefully managed, this is also a key risk for New Zealand’s biosecurity.”
With the increasing spread of African Swine Fever, NZ Pork has begun working with MPI to provide more education about the disease and managing potential risks. ASF is a deadly pig disease, which has no effective treatment or vaccine, currently sweeping through Asia and Europe. While there have been no detections of the disease in New Zealand, over 60 per cent of pork consumed in New Zealand is imported from more than 25 countries around the world, including China, Poland and Belgium, which are identified as having ASF. The virus is exceptionally hardy and can survive almost indefinitely in frozen meat. It can also be carried on clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles.
“One of the things we’re really emphasising is the importance of not feeding untreated meat scraps – or food that may have come into contact with meat – to pigs,” said Baines. “The major risk to our industry is that ASF gets into the lifestyle or para-commercial pig population through the feeding of untreated food scraps, and from there into our commercial herd.”
“People have to be really careful about feeding food scraps to pigs, as it is very easy for meat that’s not been properly treated to get caught up or come into contact with it. In New Zealand, it is illegal to feed meat to pigs unless it has been cooked at 100 degrees – boiled, essentially – for one hour.”
“This is a key biosecurity measure, as ASF is a very hardy virus and can survive in pork products that might not have been cooked thoroughly, as well as various types of processed pork products. It can then infect the pigs that eat them.”
“So, unless they are absolutely sure food scraps can be properly treated, we’re asking the restaurant and café sector to avoid giving them to pig farmers, which will help us cut off a significant risk pathway.”
For more information on African Swine Fever, visit nzpork.co.nz/asf.