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Heat-treating requirement would bankrupt British producers

by 5m Editor
6 March 2003, at 12:00am

UK - Until stricter border controls are introduced, the threat from incoming disease will make it difficult to build a "quality pig industry" in this country, Ian Campbell told NPA members at a regional meeting.

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Another outbreak of foot and mouth or classical swine fever would devastate the pig sector, he said - particularly in view of a recent EC foot and mouth draft directive calling for all pigmeat from 3km protection zones to be heat-treated before it is allowed on the domestic market.

"We know from our experience with classical swine fever that this will carry a serious problem for us unless we discover a market for heat treated pigmeat," he said.

In addition to insisting on heat-treating of meat from protection zones, the EC draft also requires meat from 3-10km surveillance zones to be deboned and matured. Since the maturation process in pigmeat is unlikely to kill FMD virus, it is likely that heat-treatment will be required for pigmeat from surveillance zones as well

The problem for British producers is that commercial insurance cover against consequential loss is simply not available and with government indicating no state-funded welfare disposal scheme payments will be available to pig producers in any future outbreak of foot and mouth or classical swine fever, the risk is significant and unacceptable, said Ian Campbell, NPA regional manager.

"We are in no financial position at this stage to start a fund to pay for this ourselves.

"Few I think would wish to re-live the period during the 2000 swine fever outbreak in East Anglia before we achieved disposal scheme funding, when pigs were restricted on farm. Animal welfare went out the window."

He pointed out that as an island with a complete ban on recycling of pigmeat, either through swill or meat and bonemeal, Britain should be in a position to seek a derogation from the EC's heat treating proposal.

"Foot and mouth is not an issue as far as human consumption of meat is concerned," he stressed. "This is purely a livestock biosecurity issue and it doesn't need to apply in Britain. If we had a recurrence in this country, our export market for pigmeat would be shut off so there could be no threat of the disease being spread via the continued practice of swill feeding in Europe."

Defra recognise the problems that would be caused by protection and surveillance zone pigmeat having to be heat treated, and NPA will be urging them to get the EC draft changed, or to seek a derogation.

Source: National Pig Association - 6th March 2003

5m Editor