Korean pork imports angers Australia’s pork industry

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 29th November 2011

Australia’s peak pork industry organisation, Australian Pork Limited, has criticised the Australian Government for failing to notify the industry of illegal pork imports from South Korea in 2010, when South Korea was in the midst of a serious outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

Chief executive officer of Australian Pork Limited (APL), Andrew Spencer said the APL only found out about the illegal imports through a government report published last week by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF).

The report, ‘A review of Australia’s preparedness for the threat of foot–and–mouth disease’, was completed by the DAFF’s former Secretary, Ken Matthews.

The reports states, “In 2010 an Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) investigation revealed illegal importation of a substantial amount of animal product (including pig meat products) from South Korea, during which time South Korea was experiencing an extensive outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease.

“The operation uncovered a long-term, established supply chain dedicated to the illegal importation of pig meat into Australia, which involved importers, brokers and the operators of Quarantine Approved Premises. The case has been treated as a top priority considering that illegal smuggling of animal products is thought to have caused a number of Foot and Mouth Disease outbreaks around the world, including the devastating outbreak in the United Kingdom in 2001.”

APL’s CEO, Mr Spencer said, “We’re in shock reading the Matthews report. It mentions a long-term smuggling operation bringing pig meat into Australia operating from South Korea, which at the time had foot and mouth disease.

“We had no idea of any investigation. My confidence in AQIS being able to effectively carry out their responsibilities around protecting the health of our livestock industries is flowing out my office door.”

Australian Pork Limited told Australian Food News today that the pork industry will be holding robust talks with the DAFF in the near future on a number of additional issues raised in the Matthews report.

Australian Government and state and territory senior biosecurity officials are meanwhile working together to develop a national action plan to be considered by ministers in April 2012.