Want some Christmas pork? Go local, avoid imports

5 November 2019
This Christmas, Sydney experts urge all travellers to be vigilant with pork products to avoid the risk of introducing African swine fever.
photo of a beagle sniffing a suitcase at an airport

Make sure you declare any meat products at the airport. Photo: Shutterstock

University of Sydney experts are warning all Australians and visitors to Australia to be vigilant about bringing in or receiving international food packages this Christmas that contain pork products that may be infected with African swine fever.

“We all have a responsibility to safeguard Australian livestock industries,” Associate Professor Jenny-Ann Toribio, an expert in biosecurity in the School of Veterinary Science. “Each of us must ensure that we do not bring into Australia products that can carry infectious diseases and pests in our luggage or with our shopping or gifts by post.”

photo of delicatessen sausages

If you receive meat in the post, eat it! Don't feed it to an animal. Photo: Pixabay

6 tips to keep our pigs safe

  1. Make sure you declare any meat products you may be travelling with when coming from overseas, especially products containing pork. Even if you’re unsure, the best practice is just to declare.
  2. Remind your family and friends to not post any meat products to you – this includes smallgoods, jerky.
  3. f you do happen to receive meat or pork products in the post, the recommendation is to eat it! Do not feed it to an animal. ASF poses no risk to human health.
  4. Make sure you dispose of leftover meat or pork products correctly by double-bagging the product and placing it in the rubbish bin that goes for landfill – not the green waste, compost or recycling bin.
  5. Be aware of the biosecurity requirements when online shopping.
  6. Above all, DO NOT feed meat products, or any food that has come into contact (e.g. shared a plate) with meat to pigs.

Tips from Animal Health Australia

photo of a plate of salami

Remind your friends not to send pork products in the mail. Photo: Pixabay

Christmas pork

Dr Rob Barwell, Senior Manager Biosecurity, at Animal Health Australia, said: “As we move into the festive season, leading to an increase in travellers and mail moving in and out of the country, the risk of an exotic disease entering Australia is heightened. Everyone has a part to play to help prevent entry of ASF and other diseases that can have devastating effects on Australia’s agriculture in Australia, including students travelling from overseas or receiving care packages.”

African Swine Fever

Associate Professor Toribio said: “African swine fever is a highly contagious viral disease that kills up to 80 per cent of pigs for which we have no cure and no vaccine. While the virus does not pose a risk to human health, it will, if introduced, kill many pigs and severely impact the pig industry which provides 36,000 jobs. Already its impact in Europe, Russia, China and South-East Asia means ASF is on track to have killed one quarter of the world’s domestic pig population by the end of this year.”

Fast Facts


Australia’s 2700 pig farmers and 4.8 million pigs at risk


A high percentage of pig products coming from Asia now contain the virus


The virus survives in all types of pig products for a very long time


A pig is infected by eating an infected pig product

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