Bans on some SA meat products relaxed after foot and mouth outbreak in Limpopo

Restrictions on the export of South African processed meat products have been relaxed by some trade partners who halted imports following the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Limpopo, the department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said on Monday.

The diseased was in January identified in cattle in the Vhembe District of Limpopo, leading to a provincial ban on the import of local meat products by several countries to minimise the risk of contamination.

FMD is a severe, highly contagious viral disease which affects livestock. The disease affects cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, and other cloven-hoofed animals. 

Minister Senzeni Zokwana said on Monday morning that trade restrictions on the export of processed products have been relaxed by many trade partners, following interventions by the government and industry to control the spread of the disease. 

"Trade in safe commodities to direct neighbouring countries have largely been accepted and, where necessary, negotiation of new health certificates is underway," he said.

"There has also been good progress with negotiations to re-open markets for de-boned matured beef, processed dairy products and processed hides and skins to the other African countries, the Middle East and the Far East."

According to the department, the animals affected by the outbreak are cattle kept in rural villages with communal dip tanks and grazing.

"While some countries instituted official bans, trade was further disrupted as a result of the inability to certify for any exports where FMD free zone attestation is required," said Zokwana.

The affected villages in Limpopo were within a 20km  radius, with around 15 000 animals affected.

Guarantees have been provided for products which do not pose a risk of transmitting the disease, such as heat treated meat and dairy products, de-boned and matured beef, scoured wool, salted hides and skins, among other products.