The employment of some private meat inspectors in New Zealand had nothing to do with seven containers of beef exported to the United States in 2012 that USDA turned away, according to an official with the NZ Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI). Prime Minister John Key’s government is experimenting with private or outsourced meat inspection at seven meat processing plants, but none of those plants was involved with the seven shipments that did not make it past USDA’s inspectors at the border, MPI’s Scott Gallacher says. However, New Zealand did successfully ship 11,000 containers of beef and lamb to the U.S. last year, says Gallacher, MPI’s deputy director for standards. He insists that New Zealand has numerous controls in place to make sure that the country’s meat is safe. The opposition Labor and Green parties in New Zealand oppose the government allowing some company-paid inspectors to work alongside regular government inspectors. At the seven meat plants, government inspectors remain responsible for all post-mortem inspections and conduct “roving” patrols throughout the facility. Key’s National Party government has tried outsourcing since 2011. The practice has been challenged by recent in-country media reports questioning whether the private inspectors are substandard and raising both food safety and export concerns for New Zealand. After those reports, the Labor Party called for a new food safety agency independent of MPI, and the Green Party asked for an end to outsourcing meat inspectors. One complicating issue involves pay. Government inspectors are paid by the hour, and outsourced inspectors are paid per carcass, making them reluctant to stop the line when there is a problem.