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A major row has broken out between the Australian opposition

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Feb 13, 2005
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Australia's opposition party is accused of irresponsible scaremongering over imports of Brazilian beef.

A major row has broken out between the Australian opposition Labor party and the Australian government over imports of Brazilian beef.

The Labor party has accused the agriculture ministry of letting unsafe beef into the country because they say it comes from a country that had foot and mouth disease. However, the Australian Agriculture Minister Warren Truss said it is a desperate scramble for political points and a case of scaremongering.

Truss said the Labor party has demonstrated it is prepared to risk the clean and green image of the Australian beef industry by making incorrect and inflammatory statements about the import last year of a small amount of disease-free Brazilian beef.

Labor agriculture spokesman Gavan O'Connor said: "Beef was imported from Brazil, a country known to harbor foot and mouth disease, without the knowledge of Biosecurity Australia or Australia's Chief Veterinary Officer, and without any prior Import Risk Assessment, according to evidence presented to a Senate estimates hearing.

"This meat would not have been accepted in countries such as the U.S. Canada, or Mexico, yet Australia authorities did not even carry out an inspection of the Brazilian facilities and procedures prior to approving the importation of half a ton of the product, O'Connor said. "Evidence was given that the shipment was allowed into Australia under rules that were reviewed and updated by the Howard Government as recently as 1999."

He added: "If foot and mouth had been confirmed the Australian beef industry, our biggest rural export earner, would have been exposed to an unnecessary, and potentially grave, risk."

Minister Truss said: "I advised, in a media release on 24 December 2004, that a small consignment of beef was imported into Australia from Brazil. The consignment was granted an import permit by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service in accordance with an import policy put in place in the 1980s and revised in early 1999. The review involved industry consultation and the import arrangements were supported by the industry at the time. The Cattle Council first wrote to me with concerns about the import protocol after the first imported product arrived in Australia."

He explained: "Once an import policy is in place, there is no requirement for AQIS to notify the Chief Veterinary Officer or Biosecurity Australia when it issues a permit under what is essentially a routine administrative process. The job of AQIS is to ensure that the import complied with the requirements for such imports: that they came from zones accredited by the world animal health organization (the OIE) as free from foot and mouth disease; that they came from an approved processing plant and that animals have been subject to ante-mortem and post-mortem veterinary inspection, and certified free from infectious or contagious disease."

Australia's red meat import policy recognizes both country and zone FMD freedom accreditation provided by the OIE (a service the OIE provides for just a handful of major animal diseases, including foot and mouth disease, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, and rinderpest). Australia's approach to the import of disease-free meat is the same as that of dozens of other countries and the European Union, and does not adversely impact on Australia's OIE accreditation as FMD-free.

"The 20 cartons of beef imported into Australia were sourced from an E.U.- and U.S.-accredited abattoir in Brazil with barcode traceability, and arrived in Australia on 29 November 2004,"Truss said. "Subsequently, on 24 December 2004, advice was received of a suspected FMD case on a property more than 700km from the abattoir in an FMD-free state of Brazil. On 7 January 2005, Australia was advised the report was a false alarm. None of the meat exported to Australia came from the area where the suspected case was reported."

As a precaution, on December 24, 2004, Australia suspended all imports of uncooked meat from Brazil and announced a review of the import policy. Within 48 hours of the false alarm, all 20 cartons of the imported Brazilian beef had been traced and accounted for.

"Precautionary measures were put in place at a Wagga Wagga processing plant where the two cartons had been opened and assessed for commercial suitability," Truss said. "These two cartons had been disposed of at the municipal waste management facility on 22 December 2004, where they had been buried under compacted soil in line with the regulations for industrial waste required by the New South Wales government." Truss added: "All of the meat has now been destroyed. The imported meat was certified to be disease-free, it did not come from an FMD-area and the shipment posed no risk to the disease-free status of the Australian animal herd. Australia maintains the highest possible status of FMD freedom, and the Australian government is determined to ensure that this prized status is never put at risk. I share the beef industry's desire to ensure that Australia can have a high degree of confidence in Brazil's biosecurity systems."

Biosecurity Australia, together with AQIS, the Product Integrity Animal and Plant Health Division of the department, an FMD specialist and a State Chief Veterinary Officer are scheduled to travel to Brazil in late March or April to assess the effectiveness of the FMD-free zone arrangements as well as food safety systems in place in Brazil. Their visit is a key element of the review, which Truss announced on December 24, 2004, of Australia's beef import protocol.

"No further imports of uncooked meat will be permitted until the review is complete," Truss promised. "The Cattle Council has written to advise that they are supportive of my swift action to resolve this matter."

Web posted: February 16, 2005
Category: Food Safety,Legislation and Regulation,Marketing,Trade
Domenick Castaldo, Ph.D.
If I undrestand this right, it was meat and not live cattle. Very low risk unlike live animals!
thanks Big Muddy, I knew that it came from imported sausage in 1952, but that was then fed back to the animals, table scraps! But still a lower risk.
Australia: Salami Smuggler's 6,500 Reasons To Respect Quarantine Average reader rating: 0

by Australia Government: AFFA Today 2/17/2005 6:48:16 AM

Australia: Salami Smuggler's 6,500 Reasons To Respect Quarantine

A Danish businessman has learned that ignoring Australia's tough quarantine laws doesn't pay, Australian Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister Warren Truss said today.

Late last week in Cairns Magistrates Court, the 34-year-old man was fined $6,500 for failing to declare four and a half kilograms of salami when he arrived in Queensland for a short business trip.

Quarantine officers at Brisbane International Airport discovered salami sausages — intended as gifts for clients — during an x-ray inspection of the traveller's luggage.

Minister Truss said the severity of the fine reflects the importance of quarantine to Australia and the seriousness of this kind of breach.

"The meat could have been carrying an animal disease with devastating consequences for our agricultural industries, the Australian economy and the general community," he said.

The magistrate who heard the case said ignorance of quarantine rules was no excuse for breaking them. There is sufficient signage at airports and on planes advising passengers to declare their goods to AQIS.

He also commented that carelessness was no excuse for failing to obey a legal obligation to declare quarantine items.

"The support of our courts is very important to AQIS," Mr Truss said. "That support recognises that Quarantine's role is vital to Australia's protection.

"Smugglers put at risk Australia's $30 billion a year agriculture export industries, as well as the good health of our wildlife and environment.

"Anyone who flouts Australia's strict quarantine rules risks up to 10 years in jail or fines of up to $60,000.

"Under the Howard/Anderson Government's border protection policies, AQIS maintains a 100 per cent inspection rate on incoming international mail, shipping and air and sea containers, and approximately 90 per cent of passengers arriving at our international airports have their luggage x-rayed or opened. This compares with intervention of less than 5 per cent of international mail, very few sea and air cargo containers and only 25 per cent of passengers under the previous government.

"The Coalition has boosted the quarantine budget to $500 million a year, up from just $40 million 10 years ago — giving us the world's largest dedicated border quarantine presence."
It appears that Australia is a little more serious about herd health than the USDA is. Here its the USDA doing the smuggling.