Australia’s overseas fresh food inspection regime to be phased out
The Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has announced it is phasing out its own inspectors examining fresh food imports pre-shipment to Australia.
The overseas inspection regime will come to an end by 2020.
The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources says that its cutback to offshore pre-shipment inspection (OPI) will not jeopardise the biosecurity of Australian produce, despite the non-inspection of imports prior to arrival.
“To ensure officers on OPI deployments are fully utilised, the department is slightly reducing the number of officers available for OPI during the current horticultural season. It is planned that this will gradually reduce to a phase out of OPI in 3 years,” a Department spokesperson said.
“At the same time, the department will offer alternative on-shore inspection arrangements for horticultural produce. This will be available to all horticulture importers and attract usual service charges, but will provide an incentive to keep imported consignments free from biosecurity risks, by rewarding those with strong compliance with a reduced inspection frequency for compliant import pathways,” the spokesperson said.
The department said it would continue to consult with industry and trading partners on the future of the OPI program.
Australian Food News viewpoint
Australian Food News believes that the OPI program was originally established for the benefit of Australian importers. The department focus is now to assist Australian producers and exporters, rather than importers.