- The suspension of beef and mutton exports to the European Union (EU) will be lifted tomorrow. Namibia had to apply stricter veterinary and quarantine procedures to be able to reestablish its meat export to the EU.
- Suspension of certification of animal products to the EU by the Directorate of Veterinary Services ... implemented from 24 November, is uplifted as from Friday 19 December, the Namibian Ministry of Agriculture said in a statement yesterday.
- Remedial steps implemented by the directorate allow the veterinarians to certify [meat exports] with integrity and maintain the trust that exists between the directorate and the [European Union] Commission, it said.
Director of Namibia's Veterinary Services, Dr Archie Norval, said these steps included extending the quarantine time for sheep brought for slaughter across veterinary cordons.
To ensure they were not infected with the foot and mouth disease, these sheep were kept in quarantine for 21 days in accordance with rules of the International Veterinary Office, which represents veterinary administrations worldwide.
EU rules, however, required these animals to be kept in quarantine for three months. This had now been enforced in Namibia, Dr Norval said.
The EU mission also called for more active surveillance for brucellosis, a bacterial disease in cattle, and this had also been implemented, said Mr Norval. He added that controls on temperatures at which beef was matured at abattoirs were also among the EU concerns. So were a number of record-keeping matters.
- We are confident the EU will be satisfied with the action we have taken and that we will take further action in future if necessary, Mr Norval told 'The Namibian'. "Stock owners and other role players are reminded that conditions which have to be adhered to will not be compromised in any way and veterinary officials will remain very strict in the execution of inspections," the Ministry statement said.
The ban has already cost meat producer, Meatco, at least N$5 million (euro 600,000) as a number of containers of beef on their way to the EU were turned back and will now be sold on the South African market. It has also hurt the reputation of Namibian meat, with the South African Feedlot Association this week expressing concern that beef which had been declared "not fit for consumption" by the EU was now heading to South Africa.
In a joint press release yesterday, Meatco and the Livestock Producers Organisation of Namibia said claims by the South African Feedlot Association were exaggerated. "In Namibia the EU inspectors pointed out a few technical problems.
However, these problems are in no way related to the quality of the meat," the statement said. "While casting suspicion on meat of Namibian origin, the Feedlot Association is depriving the South African consumers of top quality meat".
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