Veterinary Agreement to boost EU-New Zealand trade in animal products

Technical amendments to the EU-New Zealand Agreement on sanitary measures in live animals and animal products have recently been made to boost existing trade relations. This updated agreement, which has been in place since 1996, is the most advanced international bilateral agreement in the area of animal health, animal welfare and food safety systems.

Key innovative features that will lead to further trade opportunities whilst reducing costs for exporters are:

  • Enhanced equivalence provisions including EU standards for raw milk products;
  • Mutual recognition of microbiological controls and chemical testing standards for seafood;
  • Trade conditions to permit trade in certain products with agreed treatments during disease outbreaks;
  • Reduced physical inspection rates on products;
  • Resumption of fresh pig meat exports to New Zealand; and
  • Simplified certification and a move to electronic certification in 2016.

Worth €427 million in 2014, EU agricultural exports to New Zealand have increased significantly with a 20% annual average growth over the last five years. Several key commodities have also experienced high growth over recent years including pork products and cheese. New Zealand has authorised imports of high value raw milk products, such as Roquefort, Camembert and Emmental and fresh pig meat, from the EU. Both these products have significant potential for growth.  New Zealand was also the very first country in the world to re-authorise exports of EU beef following the BSE crisis.

Other important benefits of cooperation between the EU and New Zealand are:

  • The EU and New Zealand are complementary suppliers of high-quality products.  Because New Zealand is in the southern hemisphere, their production and exports peak in a way that is counter-cyclical to EU pastoral producers.  This means products from New Zealand complement those from the EU, maintaining year round availability of certain products.
  • The EU is New Zealand’s largest source of imported goods and services.
  • Through the mutual recognition of regionalisation under the Agreement, trade in animal products such as pork to continue, despite recent EU outbreaks of African Swine Fever, from regions that remain unaffected by the disease.

These benefits bring substantial economic incentives and maintain sustainable trade flows between both parties.

For more details:

Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2015/1084 of 18 February 2015 approving on behalf of the European Union certain amendments to Annexes II, V, VII and VIII to the Agreement between the European Community and New Zealand on sanitary measures applicable to trade in live animals and animal products (notified under document C(2015) 797), OJ L 175, 4.7.2015, p. 45–123.

(Source: DG Sante website)

FSA Board agrees restrictions on raw milk should remain

The FSA Board met to discuss the findings of the comprehensive review of the regulations that control the sale of unpasteurised, or raw, drinking milk.

The review concluded that:

  • the risk associated with raw drinking milk consumption, except for vulnerable groups, is acceptable when appropriate hygiene controls are applied
  • the current restriction on sales of raw milk should remain in place as there is uncertainty that consumer protection can be maintained if the market for raw milk is expanded
  • risk communication could be improved, particularly for vulnerable groups, and changes to the labelling requirements are proposed to reflect this

The Board accepted the conclusions of the review.  However, they noted concerns that consumers should be more aware of the risks and asked that the FSA be clear in its advice not to drink raw milk.

The Board noted reports of non-compliance in the industry and agreed that supporting improvements in compliance should be a focus for FSA action.

In a development to the FSA’s approach to the control of ‘risky’ foods, the Board agreed that we will now identify triggers relating to outbreaks, detection of pathogens in raw drinking milk samples, and changes in the retail market for raw drinking milk that would require a further discussion of risks and controls. This will be facilitated by regular reporting of compliance in this sector to the Board.

The FSA reviewed the current controls to make sure they are clear, consistent and control the public health risks associated with raw milk. The review covered England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Sale of raw drinking milk is banned in Scotland.

The consultation considered a number of options. These ranged from removing restrictions on sales through to introducing a requirement for all milk to be pasteurised prior to sale.

(Source: FSA Website)