Licensed abattoirs say trade in "blackmarket meat" is
increasingly posing a food safety risk and potentially
damaging international perceptions of New Zealand trade.
"The blackmarket meat trade is alive and thriving," Abattoir
Association president Lyndon Everton said.
"There is a lack of enforcement placed on backyard butchers
and the home-kill industry."
Since amendments were made to the Animal Product Act in 1999,
the numbers of registered home-kill operators had increased
from 79 to 384, he said.
Federated Farmers' rural butchers section chairman Mike
Hanson last month criticised operators he described as
untrained cowboys and called for more effort to be put into
combating rustlers and backyard blackmarket butchers.
Mr Hanson, an Ashburton retail butcher and a home-kill
operator, said rural butchers wanted a concerted effort
involving council environmental health inspectors, the NZFSA
and police to enforce existing legislation.
Government food safety regulators said at the time that they
had not seen any surge in illicit "backyard butchers" and
over the past 12 months there had been just three formal
complaints directly relating to the sale of home-killed meat.
"This is roughly consistent with previous years," said a
spokesman for the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA).
But Mr Everton said the real issue was not whether or not
there have been more complaints to NZFSA over home-killed
meat but that no one actually knew, definitively, the numbers
There was no data collected from the home-kill industry, he
"Home-kill operators, licensed or not, do not pay levies,
including those for tuberculosis eradication," he said.
"We estimate that the home kill and backyard butchers process
over half a million sheep, cattle and pigs every year. In
levies alone, this amounts to over $2 million a year being
Mr Everton, who is based at Carterton in the Wairarapa, told
NZPA the concerns were not a matter of "patch protection".
He was less concerned over loss of revenue to processors than
he was about the damage that might be done by food safety
problems from home-kill meat.
In some cases, people were buying livestock at sales, then
lining up to have them slaughtered as home-kill for their own
consumption, when the law said they had to have first owned
the animals for 28 days.
Abattoirs Association members all had licensed premises where
animals were humanely handled and meat was certified by an
The Government should collect data on home-kill activity and
ensure all operators were audited for compliance with rules
on food safety, humane slaughter, and traceability, said Mr