Stakes run high with biosecurity risks at Adelaide airport

Biosecurity officers confiscated an increasing number of meat products from incoming passengers at Adelaide’s international airport during 2016, contraband that could potentially butcher Australia’s biosecurity.

Head of biosecurity operations at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Nico Padovan, said the stakes were high with declarable items but particularly when it came to the risks associated with meat and meat products.

“A total of 2,134 meat products were seized by Adelaide biosecurity officers in 2016—compared with 1,944 in the previous year,” Mr Padovan said.

“That’s a rise of 10 per cent, and every one of those items places Australia’s $60 billion agricultural industries at risk.

“Whether brought in accidently or not, it’s important to understand that the Incoming Passenger Card is a legal document—serious penalties apply, but it’s our industries, plants and animals that could pay the greatest price if a pest or disease gets in.

“Meat products can carry foot and mouth disease, which could cost Australia $50 billion over a decade if it becomes established.”

Mr Padovan said there was also a 10% increase in the amount of seafood forfeited.

“This is of real concern because of the critical importance biosecurity plays in Australia. Exotic pests and diseases can easily find their way into the country with travellers on items like meat, fruit, seafood and egg products.

Items seized at Adelaide International Airport in 2016 included:

  • 2,134 items of  meat an increase of 10 per cent on 2015
  • 361 items of seafood up 10 per cent on 2015
  • 2975 incidents of contaminated equipment, such as footwear, 348 more than in 2015
  • 2,736 fruit or fruit product items, a decrease of 9 per cent on 2015
  • 895 grain, nut and legume products, a decrease of 10 per cent on 2015.

Incoming passengers can make a real difference to Australian biosecurity by thinking about the risks they’re posing to Australia when they pack their bags.

“My advice is leave it behind – most delicacies, including meat, seafood and fruit are available for sale in Australia,” Mr Padovan said.

“We seized 273,000 items of biosecurity concern across Australia’s international airports in 2016, up by more than 6 per cent from 2015.

“Biosecurity officers are using the best science, analysis and intelligence available and actively target deliberate concealment and non-compliance with Australia’s biosecurity laws.

“People need to think about what they are packing and if unsure check agriculture.gov.au, fill out the Incoming Passenger Cards correctly, declare everything honestly and leave all plane food on the plane.”

For more information on what can and can’t be brought to Australia visit agriculture.gov.au/travelling.

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