The company in question, GD Pork Pty Ltd, was charged with aggravated illegal importation offences under the Biosecurity Act and Quarantine Act in Western Australia.
The case dates back to January 2017 after on-going investigations by the Australian Department of Agriculture.
The Department expressed that although the biosecurity threats have been “effectively managed”, the actions could have had significant risks for the Australian pork industry and would not be tolerated.
“Illegal imports of pig genetics can carry significant risks. This includes porcine reproduction and respiratory syndrome and Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD),” said an Australian Department of Agriculture statement.
“It has been estimated that FMD could cost Australia around $50 billion over a decade if it was to arrive here. These imports can also increase the risk of African swine fever arriving in Australia. This disease has no known cure and is another major threat to our $5.3 billion pork industry.”
According to the Department of Agriculture, the maximum penalty for an ‘illegal importation to obtain a commercial advantage’ is 10 years jail and/or 2000 penalty units ($420,000). For a corporation the maximum penalty is 10000 penalty units ($2.1 million).
The move has been welcomed by the Australian Pork Limited (APL), who have worked closely with Australian authorities to support investigations following the alleged breach in January 2017.
“The alleged actions of this business therefore could have put Australia’s’ rigorous biosecurity measures at risk, and threatened the integrity, safety and value of Australian food production,” said APL’s CEO Andrew Spencer.
“APL fully endorses the response from the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and other authorities to this case. While we are fortunate the breach was contained, it reinforces the need for vigilance, and sends a message to Australian producers and the broader public that any biosecurity breaches will simply not be tolerated.”
According to reports, the next hearing will take place on the 18 January at Perth Magistrates Court.
GlobalMeatNews has contacted Perth Magistrates Court and GD Pork Pty Ltd for comment.