MLA backs risk protocols

MEAT and Livestock Australia has assured the agricultural sector that the nation’s strict biosecurity protocols mean we are well placed to deter inbound infectious diseases.

Recent detections in neighbouring countries of Foot and Mouth Disease, Lumpy Skin Disease and African Swine Flu have increased concerns. However, MLA Managing Director Jason Strong said Australian biosecurity standards have the borders protected at a worldclass level.

“We know that our members’ livelihoods depend on maintaining our disease-free status and it’s the reason we are working tirelessly with industry and government to collectively strengthen our approach to a potential disease outbreak,” Mr Strong said.

“Australia has some of the strictest biosecurity protocols in the world and the industry has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to develop a lifetime traceability system. “It’s the Australian Government’s responsibility for protecting Australia from these diseases and the industry is doing everything we can to support their work.”

Last week saw an inspection of the Sydney Airport’s international biosecurity measures conducted by the Australian Government and representatives from LMA, Australian Meat Industry Council, Australian Pork Limited, Australian Wool Innovation and Wilmot Cattle Co. One of intended outcomes of the tour was to produce a video showing the enhanced biosecurity measures at Australian international ports. Its intention is to help convey confidence in the significant measures put in place to protect the industry from diseases. Included was an overview of the large number of biosecurity touch points arriving passengers must pass.

These include announcements and handouts before disembarking, sanitation foot mats, passport and inbound passenger card checks, passenger profiling, roaming biosecurity officers, X-ray inspections, detector dogs, manual inspections and an unprecedented level of screening of incoming goods and mail. Australia is currently completely free of FMD, LSD and ASF.

As part of the Government’s response to the threat of animal diseases in the region, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has also increased its surveillance and testing of meat and other animal products, both at the border and through targeted checking of retail outlets. Though there is no threat to human health from these diseases, breaches of Australia’s biosecurity are taken very seriously.

Penalties for those who do the wrong thing include imprisonment for up to 10 years and a fine of up to $1,110,000 (or $5,550,000 for corporate entities).