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Biosecurity Beefed Up Against Foot and Mouth Disease

Discovery of FMD in Imported Food Products

Biosecurity measures at Australian airports have been bolstered amid the discovery of fragments of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in pork products in Melbourne.

Packages of dried pork – branded as Pork Floss – have been seized from supermarket shelves and warehouses after viral fragments of both FMD and African Swine Fever (ASF) were detected during routine testing. FMD fragments have also been detected in beef products declared by a passenger at the border.

The government moved to assure Australians that neither discovery constitutes an incursion or outbreak.

Passengers returning from Indonesia will now need to use disinfecting foot mats upon arrival to reduce the risk of FMD being brought into Australia as part of the latest measures to be implemented in the fight to prevent an outbreak.

“These sanitation mats will be a physical reminder to passengers to do the right thing to limit any spread of FMD, and will be used in conjunction with our current measures, such as passenger declaration, 100 per cent profiling of all passengers entering from Indonesia, real-time risk assessments, questioning and shoe cleaning,” said Agriculture Minister Murray Watts.

“We still encourage Australians to clean their shoes and clothing, and even leave their footwear overseas if they can,” he added.

The mats, which are currently being shipped to international terminals, will be used by passengers to remove soil and dirt from their shoes and will contain a citric acid solution as a disinfectant.

In an interview with ABC, National Farmers’ Federation President Fiona Simson said that she was comfortable with the level of current measures in place to prevent an incursion of FMD.

“We welcome Murray Watt’s announcement today about the foot mats in the current circumstances with Indonesia and we welcome the government’s support to the Indonesians as well as they work in their own country getting on top of these incursions,” she said.

Ms Simson praised the agriculture minister for stepping up biosecurity measures but said that the government needed to prosecute passengers found to be breaching relevant laws.

Opposition Calls for a Border Closure with Indonesia

Shadow Immigration Minister Dan Tehan called for Australia’s border with Indonesia to be closed in order to prevent the spread of FMD.

“If that is the advice that the experts say that we need to undertake to stop this from getting into Australia then absolutely we have to consider that,” he told Sky News.

“This is too serious.”

Meanwhile, Mark Shipp, Chief Veterinary Officer, said that he was confident that Australia could prevent FMD from arriving.

“Many countries in our region have foot and mouth disease, and we’ve been dealing with that for decades,” he said. 

“We know that once it entered Indonesia it would get into Bali and spread further, and we ramped up our biosecurity efforts in response to that.”

Sources: News, Beef Central, ABC

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