BSE outbreak warning

24 Dec, 2001 10:00 PM

QUARANTINE authorities have renewed the push to protect Australia's BSE free status.

In light of Japan's second recorded case of the disease, along with the conviction of NSW hobby farmer Phillip McIlwain for feeding animal material to his sheep, authorities have confirmed ongoing audits and awareness campaigns remained rigorous.

Newly appointed WA agriculture department chief veterinary officer Peter Buckman said there had been a continued extension of monitoring programs, with the latest focus being placed on appropriate labeling of products, which contained animal material.

He said ensuring retailers and manufacturers were adequately educated was another important step in preventing the misuse of such products.

Mr Buckman said recent events had highlighted the seriousness of the matter, but there was always a risk that individuals may ignore warnings.

A state by state review of penalties would be a necessary part of the response, according to Mr Buckman, after Mr McIlwain was fined $1767 for two counts of breaching the Stock Diseases Act.

PGA policy director Damien Capp said targeted surveillance had been a part of disease control programs for years, but extending controls had prevented Australian meat markets being hit too badly by dips in beef consumption.

"We have such a high level of confidence around the world in our product that the sales of Australian beef are holding up well, " he said.

Mr Capp said he anticipated more markets would be opened to Australian meat producers with continued commitment to current programs.

A Meat and Livestock Australia spokes person said the group were reprinting a BSE education brochure, which would be distributed widely across Australia.


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