2015-55 - Grain and Seed Exports Program – Empty Container Standards for Export

23 October 2015


To remind the shipping container industry of the standards required by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources for empty shipping containers destined for loading with consumable prescribed goods for export.


At the Grain and Plant Products Export Consultative Committee meeting on the 3 September 2015, concerns were raised by members about the inconsistent condition of empty containers being presented to authorised officers for phytosanitary inspection, prior to loading with consumable prescribed goods.

Summary of changes and key points

An empty container requires an internal and external inspection before it may be passed for loading consumable prescribed goods. A consumable prescribed good is any plant or plant product that is intended for consumption by humans or animals.

Containers must be free from live pests, vermin and their waste, organic contaminants (e.g. soil, straw), inorganic contaminants (e.g. plastic, metal), infestible residues, residual odours and moisture.

Containers must be structurally sound, so that pests and/or contaminants cannot enter the container. Door seals and gaskets must be intact and sufficiently pliable to make certain that a weatherproof seal can be maintained.This includes when the container is stationary on a hard surface and whilst in transit.

Exporters responsibilities

Clients, including shipping container yard owners, are responsible for ensuring operators are familiar with the departments instructional material relating to empty containers.

Authorised Officers deeded to inspect empty containers for export must ensure they follow the departments instructional material Inspection of empty containers – ECI3001 and Plant Export Operations Manual Volume 11 – Inspection of empty containers.

Standards for Food Quality Shipping Containers developed by Shipping Australia Limited.

Contact Information

If you have any questions regarding this IAN please email: grain.export@agriculture.gov.au or phone 02 6272 3229.

Dr Chris Parker
Assistant Secretary
Plant Export Operations Branch

Last reviewed: 21 April 2021
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