[Radio Australia] Samoa Ban On Turkey Tail Imports Lifted
WTO rules prohibit targeted specific products
MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, May 20, 2013) – Samoa has been forced to lift a ban on high-fat turkey tails, which was introduced amid concerns about diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
The turkey offcuts will be available on Samoan menus for the first time since 2007.
As part of a bid to join the World Trade Organisation, Samoa was given one year to remove the ban, which violated WTO rules on targeting individual products.
A World Health Organisation technical officer of food safety, Peter Sousa Hoejskov, says questions were raised over how much turkey tails were responsible for obesity issues.
“That’s where the questions have been raised – what about other fleshy meat? What about other unhealthy foods?” he said.
“How much are they contributing and how can we justify targeting just one individual product?”
In the wake of the WTO accession, Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said the country did not ban the import of turkey tails, but that they could only be imported with a turkey attached.
“The turkey should bring its own tail to Samoa,” he said.
“It’s no good somebody else chowing the turkey and then send the tail to Samoa.”
Under the new orders, a two-year domestic sales ban and an import duty of 300 per cent will be introduced.
Mr Hoejskov says Samoans will be able to import turkey tails for personal use.
“There’s a lot of social gatherings, church gatherings and so forth where it’s difficult to say – it’s not a commercial product – but it’s then a meal for more than just the closest family, it’s for the community,”
“Is that covered by the tax or is it not? So there’s a lot of grey zone and it’s difficult to say what sort of impact it’s going to have.”
According to a 2010 report from Samoa’s Ministry of Health, 53 per cent of Samoans are obese, while the WHO says 23 per cent of the country has diabetes.
Mr Hoejskov says Samoa, like the rest of the Pacific, is facing a crisis of non-communicable disease.
“The health sector can’t solve the problem itself – it needs to be a multi-sectoral approach – because if not the problem cannot be solved,” he said.
“The NCD crisis is not only a health issue, it’s also an economic, a development issue for the Pacific.”
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