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Pork industry linked to cancer

A CANCER-causing chemical known as Carbadox has been banned for use by Pork Producers in Australia, yet the Government is still importing contaminated meats from the United States of America.

What is Carbadox?

Carbadox or commonly known on the shelves as Mecadox is a hormone drug used to combat bacterial infection in pigs.

The drug was banned in 1986 by the Australian Government and in 1999 by the European Union due to its connections with cancer.

Research by scientists discovered that Carbadox can harm workers, animals and the environment and leaves a cancer-causing residue in the pork meat.

Farmers in the US still use the chemical for up to 35 days before slaughter. And yet the Australian Government still allows the importation of pork from Canada, United States, Denmark and also throughout other parts of Europe.

How do I know I’m buying Australian-grown pork?

Easy, look for the “Product of Australia” label. This means the pork is 100 per cent Australian grown. According to Australian Pork Limited (APL) just because a pork product is labelled ”Made in Australia” doesn’t necessarily mean the hog was born and bred in the country. The “Made in Australia” claim can be made if more than 50 per cent of the cost of production or manufacture was incurred in Australia.

It’s also best to stick to fresh pork, such as pork chops, steaks, roasts and fillets. It is illegal to import and sell fresh pork due to Australia’s current quarantine regulations for protection against diseases.

As for processed pork, anything cured, dried or smoked, it is best to stick to ham on the bone. Ham on the bone is the only guaranteed processed pork product to be Australian-grown.

What is the reaction from the industry?

Carbadox and the use of growth hormones is one of many issues facing a declining number of pork producers across Australia.

Not only do they have to compete with a dirty meat, but also countries which subsidise their pork producers shielding them from market risk, grain prices and an increasing threat of severe biosecurity diseases. Worse than Horse Flu, Post Weaning Multisystemic Wasting Syndrome (PWMWS) can easily wipe out a whole litter of piglets. There is no cure, However scientists are in the process of developing a vaccine.

Peak Hill pork producer Paul Friend in north nestern NSW said many producers were going out of business, as they could not compete with their international neighbours. The increasing biosecurity threat is a real concern for his livelihood.

PWMWS could result in the loss of 30 per cent of his production, he said.

”Then you’ve got the running cost of the sow which produces less pigs,” he said. “This will put our livelihood at stake and we’re going to ask questions whether to stay in the game.”

Many of the challenges Australian pork producers are facing are weeding out some of the smaller and less dedicated pig farmers. At the end of the day, those left are dedicated to providing a clean and consistent product for Australian consumers.

How much do Australian pork producers contribute to the economy?

Australia’s Pork Industry has a value of just over a billion dollars (statistics from Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics- ABARE).
The pork supply chain is valued at $3.5 billion and employs more than 33,000 people. Approximately 87 per cent of Australia’s pork production is for Australian consumers.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) yearbook for 2009-2010 states that in 2008, Australian pig farmers bred 2.4 million pigs. NSW was the dominant state with 770,000 head, followed by Queensland 610,000 and Victoria 394,000.

There has been a reduction in pork production with a fall of 14 per cent to 324,000 tonnes in 2008-2009 due to changes in the pork industry and production techniques.

In 2008-2009 Australia exported 32,300 tonnes of pork.

So, is the pork meat tested?

Yes, but not by Australian Health Authorities for Carbadox residue.
Quarantine testing is only at random. The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry conduct a National Residue Survey under its Pig Program. The survey has to fulfil requirements made by The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS).

Is this the end for Australia’s Pork industry?

Not necessarily. Australian Pork Limited (APL) on 16 September made a submission to Government requesting further negotiations on Australia’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

As part of this submission APL is rallying to protect the Australian pork industry from international competition. The submission includes a request for imports to only service niche export markets that cannot threaten local production.

APL is also advocating for pork producers to receive Government support and further protection against imported meat from international industries.

However, this is still no guarantee that tougher regulations will be brought in to prevent potential contaminated pork imports turning up on supermarket shelves.

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