The test result was a significant biosecurity relief, Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) deputy director general compliance and response Andrew Coleman said.
The bone, found on a Bay of Plenty farm in May, was thought initially to be domestic but testing by a zoologist suggested it was from an animal not found usually in New Zealand.
This signalled a much greater risk to the agriculture industry, because it was thought it might have come into NZ in a shipment of palm kernel dairy feed from Malaysia or Indonesia, raising fears of the possibility of introducing foot and mouth disease to the country.
For this reason, MPI sought validation of the opinion.
“It was wise to follow up and we’re confident of this latest response,” Coleman said.
He did not believe the zoologist had made a mistake but had been working on the best information at the time.
The change did not come as an embarrassment for MPI at a time when it had an official in Malaysia and Indonesia, confirming tightened NZ requirements on facilities manufacturing palm kernel, he said.
This visit was related to an earlier audit, which indicated there was an opportunity for palm kernel from an unapproved site being mixed with product from approved sites and also found a small number of approved sites needed upgraded roof netting and fencing to make sure birds and rodents were kept out.
These talks were going well, with the Malaysian and Indonesian sites prepared to take corrective action. The issue with unapproved sites would be handled by ensuring a strict paper audit was maintained by the exporting countries, Coleman said.
Palm kernel has become an important supplementary feed source for the dairy industry, especially during last summer’s drought.
About 1.4 million tonnes of palm kernel came into NZ in the year to March 31, at a cost to importers of nearly $300 million.
Though the Bay of Plenty find was innocuous in the end, Coleman said all farmers should be on the lookout for any foreign matter in palm kernel and report it to MPI.
The pest and diseases hotline is 0800 80 99 66.