Biosecurity officers seize 37,500 risky mail items in 2021, including freeze-dried quails and reindeer meat

Headshot of Cally Dupe
Cally DupeCountryman
Those posting late Christmas presents have been urged to comply with biosecurity laws.  
Camera IconThose posting late Christmas presents have been urged to comply with biosecurity laws.   Credit: jackmac34/Pixabay (user jackmac34)

Reindeer meat, rat skewers and freeze-dried quails were some of the weirdest frontline finds Australian biosecurity officers seized in 2021, prompting a warning for those still posting late Christmas presents to comply with biosecurity laws.

A whopping 37,400 mail items were found with questionable biosecurity material to October 21, 13,700 of which contained seeds, 3700 containing pork, and 2300 containing khapra beetle risk commodities.

Biosecurity officers had a busy year in 2021, screening 18.7 million articles for biosecurity risk material and keeping Australia safe from exotic pests and diseases.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the 37,400 mail articles deemed to be biosecurity risks was down on prior years, linked to a decrease of total mail volumes in 2021 due to COVID impacts.

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“Although 2021 has been a ‘ruff’ year for all, our detector dog fleet has intercepted and achieved — working tirelessly through unprecedented circumstances,” he said.

“Our 41 furry officers have screened more than 10.5 million incoming mail items and intercepted approximately 9400 biosecurity risk items as at 31 October.

“With the return of international travel, detector dog teams around the country are preparing to meet the increased demand for screening and will continue their contribution to our intervention strategy in this pathway.

“We all need to play our part to safeguard our agricultural production and our environment by not having anything sent to Australia that would compromise our clean, green, world class biosecurity status.”

Federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment secretary Andrew Metcalfe urged those expecting gifts from family and friends to remind them of the nation’s strict biosecurity laws.

“The festive season is the perfect time to remind anyone sending mail anywhere in Australia to make sure you comply with our biosecurity laws,” he said.

“If you are online shopping, check the requirements before purchasing and arranging delivery.

“In 2021, our officers detected everything from snails to quails to rat skewers and reindeer meat. Such animal products carry with them animal biosecurity risks such as foot and mouth disease and Avian Influenza, a serious disease of poultry.”

DAWE biosecurity head Andrew Tongue urged international travellers to comply with Australia’s biosecurity laws.

“It’s important to check Australia’s biosecurity requirements before packing biosecurity risk items, such as pork, fruit, plants, seeds, grains and spices,” Mr Tongue said.

“Make sure any footwear, clothing and recreation equipment is clean, dry and soil-free.

“And don’t bring any food from the plane into the airport terminal as you leave the plane.

“If brought to Australia, these items must be declared on your Incoming Passenger Card or disposed of in bins located in the terminal before undergoing biosecurity screening.”

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