July 21, 2022
Foot-and-mouth disease and African swine fever detected in imported meat to Australia
As Australia's government takes new steps to wash shoes at international airports, viral fragments of food-and-mouth disease (FMD) and African swine fever (ASF) have been found in imported meat, ABC News reported.
Murray Watt, Australia's Agriculture Minister, said that biosecurity authorities had recently found viral particles of FMD and ASF in pork products using "regular retail monitoring" operations. This discovery led to the deployment of citric foot mats at airports.
Watt said a few pork items imported from China that were being sold in the Melbourne CBD have FMD and ASF virus particles.
He said all products of this type have been confiscated from linked supermarkets and a Melbourne warehouse.
It is not the first time the diseases have been detected in meat imports, but it is the first time that Australian authorities have seized the products from a supermarket or retail outlet following discovery of livestock diseases.
Watt said the fragments, which differ from the live virus, don't endanger human health, and Australia is still clear of FMD and ASF.
He said recently, a passenger travelling from Indonesia to Australia was "intercepted with a beef product that they didn't declare, which tested positive for FMD virus fragments," according to biosecurity inspectors.
A statement from Australia's Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry said that the fragments had only been discovered in one meat sample.
The statement said one sample of food that was recently purchased and tested for FMD and African swine fever viral fragments in shops across Australia, but the test did not reveal a live virus, was positive. This sample came from pork floss that was being sold in Melbourne.
The statement also said pork floss is a dried, processed beef product that can only be imported if it complies with stringent requirements that reduce the risk of exotic diseases including FMD and ASF. Although the product was processed, there is no proof that the processing met Australia's standards.
Watt announced new sanitation foot mats, thought to be an Australian first, will soon be installed at all of the nation's international airports, starting with Cairns and Darwin. Citric acid is sprayed on them, which will loosen dirt off peoples' shoes and cover it in acid.
- ABC News