Client: AFFCO NZ Limited -Horotiu, Rangiuru and Wairoa

Industries: Meat Production

Services: Lead Environmental Consultant

AFFCO is one of New Zealand’s leading meat companies, processing and exporting more than 150,000 tonnes of quality beef and lamb products every year.  The company operates ten strategically located processing sites across the North Island of New Zealand, employing over 2,800 people nationwide.

AFFCO ‘s sites need to periodically apply for renewal of consents – generally at intervals of 15-20 years.  Re-consenting at these intervals means that at each time of renewal dischargers are subject to higher and higher community and regulatory expectations with regard to discharge quality and potential adverse effects.  One such area relates to restrictions on discharges based on E coli levels in the discharge.  E coli are used in this context as a proxy or indicator of the likely presence of pathogens in the discharge.  Limits are generally based on known relationships between E coli levels and pathogen levels in human sewage.  However, this relationship does not necessarily hold for other types of discharges, including discharges from meatworks.


Our Roles:

ARGO was engaged to monitor and assess pathogen concentrations in meatworks effluent from AFFCO sites at Wairoa, Horotiu and Rangiuru to determine the E coli:pathogen relationship in discharges from those sites.

For each site ARGO undertook sampling of the following pathogens and indicators over three seasons:

  • Faecal coliforms
  • E. coli
  • Campylobacter
  • Salmonella
  • Giardia
  • Cryptosporidium
  • E coli (0157)
  • Yersinia sp.

Findings confirmed that discharges from these sites had a markedly different pathogen profile to human derived wastewater and that E coli is not appropriate as an indicator of potential risk.  Pathogen levels at these sites were of low risk even though occasional E coli levels were elevated.  This has major potential implications for re-consenting programmes into the future.