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Australia increases FAD surveillance, testing of meat products

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Some pork products removed from supermarket after viral fragments of both FMD and ASF were detected; does not change Australia's disease-free status.

As part of the Australian Government's response to the spread of animal diseases in the region, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has increased its surveillance and testing of meat and other animal products, both at the border and through targeted checking of retail outlets.

Some pork products have been removed from supermarket shelves after viral fragments of both foot and mouth disease and African swine fever were detected during testing. This find does not change Australia's disease-free status for FMD and ASF and there is no threat to human health from these diseases.

During a recent purchasing and testing campaign of food for sale in supermarkets around Australia, one sample tested positive for FMD and ASF viral fragments– the test does not indicate live virus. This sample was from pork floss offered for sale in Melbourne.

Pork floss is a processed, dried meat product that can be imported if it meets strict import conditions that mitigate the risk of exotic diseases, including ASF and FMD. The product was processed, but investigations have not found evidence that the treatment was to Australia's requirements. Out of an abundance of caution, officers have seized product from all linked supermarkets and a warehouse in Melbourne. If the public have any of this pork floss product, they are asked to return it to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry office in their capital city. 

A number of other pork products for retail sale around Australia have tested positive for ASF viral fragments. Officers are in the process of securing products and undertaking investigations. Further information will be provided when these investigations have been completed.

The department has also been testing meat products seized at the border from travelers and through the mail. Recently a passenger was intercepted with a beef product. When prompted by a biosecurity officer, the passenger declared a number of items of biosecurity concern at the border and was issued with a warning. The seized beef item tested positive for FMD viral fragments.

The public, retailers and importers are asked to be vigilant in their purchases, to play their part in protecting Australia from these terrible diseases.

The government will continue to step up this surveillance activity and will prosecute breaches of biosecurity rules to the full extent of the law. This is across all pathways, not just travelers through airports.

Pig owners must not feed meat, animal products or imported dairy goods to their pigs. This is called swill feeding and is illegal throughout Australia.

FMD is considered one of Australia's greatest biosecurity threats to livestock and an incursion of FMD or ASF would have severe consequences for Australia's animal health, trade and economy and our regional communities.

Breaches of Australia's biosecurity are taken very seriously. Penalties for those who do the wrong thing include imprisonment for up to 10 years or a fine of up to $1,110,000 (or $5,550,000 for corporate entities) or both.

Source: Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, which is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

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