No food safety risk for consumers

Find out why Mycoplasma bovis isn't a food safety risk.

Information for consumers of meat and milk products

Mycoplasma bovis is a bacterium that causes illness in cattle, including udder infections (mastitis), abortion, pneumonia, and arthritis. It affects only cattle – dairy cows and beef cattle. It does not infect humans and presents no food safety risk.

It is common in many food-producing nations where infected animals that aren’t showing symptoms are processed for human consumption. It is not considered a disease of relevance to trade by the World Organisation for Animal Health (the OIE). There are no regulatory restrictions for meat and dairy products due to Mycoplasma bovis.

Stopping the spread

Extensive national surveillance is underway to determine the distribution of the disease in New Zealand. To prevent further spread of the disease, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has put in place strict controls. We're also developing plans with farmers for animals from the known infected farms.

Infected animals are being culled

As part of measures to control Mycoplasma bovis in New Zealand, infected animals are being slaughtered.

  • They are processed in line with standard procedures.
  • Before leaving the farm, they are assessed by vets to confirm they are fit for transport.
  • At the processing plants, MPI veterinarians assess the health of each animal before slaughter.

Any animals that are sick, severely injured, or have any medication in their systems are not processed for human consumption. This is a requirement of New Zealand law. All animals are also examined after slaughter to ensure the meat is safe and suitable for consumption.

Who to contact

If you have any questions, email info@mpi.govt.nz

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