By | July 20, 2022

Fragments of foot-and-mouth disease found in meat imported from Australia


As Australia introduces new measures for international airport shoe washing, viral fragments of foot and mouth disease (FMD), and African swine flu have been found in imported meat.

These are the key points

  • Foot mats will be required for people who travel to Australia from Indonesia.
  • Foot mats are made with citric acid to remove dirt
  • Minister warns of the dangers posed by meat sent in international mail


Both diseases are spreading throughout Asia. A widespread outbreak of either of these livestock diseases in Australia could result in economic losses of billions of dollars.

FMD fragments discovered in Melbourne imported meat

Murray Watt, Australia’s Agriculture Minister, announced the installation of citric feet mats at airports. He stated that biosecurity officials had discovered fragments of FMD in pork products through “routine retail surveillance“.

Mr Watt stated that he had found FMD and African Swine Fever fragments in small quantities of pork products sold in the Melbourne CBD. These products were imported from China.

“A number of other products made from pork for retail sales have also been positive for African Swine Fever viral fragments.”

Kath Sullivan (@KathSully).He said that he was advised that all products of this type have been taken from all the linked supermarkets as well as a warehouse in Melbourne.

Fragments of African swine flu and FMD have been detected in Australian imported meat products.

It is not clear if this is the first time meat products have been seized from a retail outlet or supermarket after detection of FMD fragments.

It is not clear how often biosecurity officers conduct surveillance outside of Australia’s ports and airports.

Mr Watt claims that the fragments are not the same virus as the live virus and do not pose any threat to human health. He also stated that Australia is free from African swine flu and FMD.

“Animal-product imports pose the greatest risk to FMD entering our country,” said Dr. Michael J. Sullivan. Although there is the possibility that it could be brought back by a traveller, the best advice I have received is to import animal products.” he stated.

According to Mr Watt, biosecurity officers discovered that a passenger travelling from Indonesia was being “intercepted” with a beef product they hadn’t declared. The product tested positive for FMD virus fragments.

Watt stated that the “disturbing discoveries” proved that biosecurity measures work.

Later, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry clarified that the fragments were found in one meat sample.

Pork floss can be imported provided it meets strict import requirements that reduce the risk of exotic diseases such as African swine flu and FMD. Although the product was processed, investigations have not shown that it was treated according to Australian standards.

Officers seized product from all the linked supermarkets and one warehouse in Melbourne out of an abundance caution.”

Roll out citric mats

Today, Mr Watt spoke in Brisbane and announced that new sanitation foot mats will be installed at all Australian international airports. Cairns as well as Darwin airports will have the mats in place within days.

citric acid is sprayed on the soles of shoes to remove dirt and then cover them with acid.

Mr Watt stated that foot mats containing citric acid would be safe for human contact.

In the past weeks, there have been several calls to introduce foot baths using a chemical solution to clean shoes at airports.

He said that the chemicals used in foot baths were not suitable for contact with skin.

“Depending on the chemical used, the footwear should be immersed in the solution for at least half an hour. This is not something you would want to do at the airport.

“Citric acid…is a safe and effective method of removing dirt from people’s footwear [and] treating their feet.”

Different livestock diseases can pose a risk

There have been cases of FMD in many countries throughout the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Australia is free from the disease for over a century.

Researchers have calculated an 11.6% chance of an FMD epidemic in Australia within the next five year.

There is a 21 percent chance of African swine flu outbreaks during this period. It is 28% for lumpy skin disease.

The announcement on Wednesday follows a $14million biosecurity commitment made by the government last week.

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