A Vietnamese woman was recently rejected by officials in Australia after she tried to sneak in approximately 10 kg (22 lbs) of unauthorized food items, including a substantial amount of pork. This would be a concern at any point in time, but especially now considering the swine fever outbreak.
The average accepted weight for luggage on international flights is 23 kg (52 lbs), which means that close to 50 percent of the woman’s baggage consisted of food, such as cooked and raw meats, eggs, garlic, fruit, and even squid.
“The passenger, a 45 year old woman from Vietnam, had her visitor visa cancelled for failing to declare an extensive cache of food concealed in her luggage, including over 4.5 kilos of pork,” stated Bridget McKenzie, Minister for Agriculture. “In the midst of what is potentially the biggest animal disease event the world has seen, it beggars belief that someone would deliberately attempt to bring pork meat past our border.”
Authorities at Sydney airport took the woman one side after not declaring any items to customs. For the violation of biosecurity laws, the woman’s visa was suspended and she won’t be allowed to go back to Australia for a three year period.
“We are watching you,” McKenzie said to reporters yesterday. “She was detected by officials as someone of interest. She went through the biosecurity questioning, she had not declared, and in her suitcase was 10 kilograms of a mixture of quail, squid, cooked pork products and the like, all of which pose a significant biosecurity risk to our country.”
There is a history of damage caused in Australia due to pests and diseases which the local ecosystem hasn’t adapted to; as a result, the country has established strict regulations regarding which items are acceptable and which aren’t.
“One quarter of the world’s pigs will be dead by the end of this year from African swine fever which kills about 80 percent of the pigs it infects and there’s no vaccine and no cure,” McKenzie stated earlier in the month, shortly following the disease discovered in East Timor. “Since we increased border checks, we’ve been seizing 100 kilograms per week in illegal pork products. Between 5 November 2018 and 31 August 2019, over 27 tons of pork were intercepted on air travellers entering Australia.”