African Swine Fever detections continue at Australian airports

Sheep Central, November 25, 2019

Minister for Agriculture Bridget McKenzie

MEAT samples testing positive for African Swine Fever are continuing to be detected in the luggage of air passengers from high risk countries.

Australian biosecurity officers detected ASF in 22 percent of meat samples confiscated during a month-long operation in October targeting travellers from high-risk countries affected by the disease.

Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie said Operation Conway was a saturation exercise that involved the screening of all passengers and crew from identified flights for pork products and other biosecurity risk material.

“In all, 1021 passengers and crew were screened using a combination of x-ray, manual inspection and detector dogs across five flights originating from countries with confirmed cases of African swine fever.

“Twenty-eight infringements and 17 written warnings were issued during the operation with 44 kilograms of risk products seized, including 12kgs of pork, chicken and beef products,” Minister McKenzie said.

“A number of pork products that were seized were sent for ASF testing, with 22 per cent returning a positive result.

“African swine fever is not present in Australia and our government is determined to keep it that way, to protect our agriculture industries, our environment and our reputation as one of the world’s most sought after suppliers of safe, clean and green food and fibre,” she said.

“African swine fever would have a substantial impact on Australia’s $5.2 billion pork industry and the 34,000 jobs that depend on it in rural and regional communities.

“There’s no vaccine and no cure and it kills about 80 per cent of the pigs it infects, so this exercise aimed to test the performance of current controls to deter the illegal importation by travellers of African Swine Fever risk products,” Ms McKenzie said.

During Operation Conway, teams of biosecurity officers were deployed across four states and locations – Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Darwin – supported at the border by colleagues from Australian Border Force.

“The operation show us that despite the risk to Australia some people are still doing the wrong thing and bringing in products that could cause an outbreak here.

“The levels of non-compliance and other intelligence gathered in this operation are used to refine profiling as well as to inform the sorts of screening activities we undertake so we can make sure we have the best measures in operation to protect Australia from this terrible disease,” Ms McKenzie said.

“As well as heightened screening for pork products at airports and mail centres, our government has strengthened compliance action at the airport which has resulted in a significant increase in the number of infringement notices being issued.

“We have also redeployed detector dogs to Cairns and Darwin, and placed ASF signage at international airports to ensure passengers declare all pork items.”


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  1. David Butcher, November 26, 2019

    The time has come where everyone carrying any products that put our ag industries at risk are put straight back on the next plane home with a one-way ticket. They will soon get the message around that Australia has strict rules and we are not short of food.

  2. Donald Cameron, November 25, 2019

    This huge threat potentially costing Aussie farmers billions for too long has remained unaddressed.

    With petty penalties and scant attention; so little attention that only in the last two years or so have the Federal Government departments asleep at the wheel, woken up and seen fit to test the seized foods. They immediately found FMD etc.

    To address the gravity of the offence all food smugglers must be immediately deported or subject to crippling mandatory fines of $10,000, $20,000 or $50,000. This, so farmers can see the government recognises the threat.

  3. Martin Clark, November 25, 2019

    I believe this only highlights that not enough is being done. The penalties are clearly not a sufficient deterrent to protect our industry’s clean reputation. Ignorance is not an excuse.

  4. Glenn Nix, November 25, 2019

    What the hell is wrong with these idiots? Do they think we have no food here?

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