NZ authorities warn kiwifruit growers over antibiotic misuse

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NZ authorities warn kiwifruit growers over antibiotic misuse

New Zealand's Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has sent formal warning letters to 26 kiwifruit growers who admitted using the antibiotic streptomycin outside official guidelines.

MPI compliance director Dean Baigent, said his department approved the use of the antibiotic under strict conditions to avoid any possibility of chemical residue in the fruit.

The conditions, under the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines (ACVM) Act 1997,  included a maximum of three spray treatments onto leaves prior to vine flowering.

"We have  found that misuse occurred on 45 different orchards under the management of 26 growers," said Baigent who explained that aim of the investigation was to identify affected fruit and prevent its sale.

"In this we were successful and both domestic and international markets were able to be assured that no fruit with streptomycin residues was in the supply chain."

MPI worked closely with the kiwifruit marketing body Zespri which co-ordinated a declaration process for growers to come forward if they felt they had breached conditions.

"There was a 100% response from growers and those concerned have co-operated fully throughout the investigation."

Baigent said a formal warning letter was an appropriate response to the investigation findings given growers were "facing a desperate situation" with Psa threating livelihoods.

"The growers voluntarily disclosed their wrong-doing and those who misused the product on a larger scale sustained the largest losses through the disposal of their affected crop.

"Additionally, the growers concerned have all been informed that any future breaches of the ACVM Act will result in prosecution."

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