The department is set to increase biosecurity controls across its airports and mail processing centres after seizing 152 pork products over a two-week period.
The pork products were tested at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong, near Melbourne, where it was found that six of the 152 pork products were contaminated with the ASF virus.
In recent months, ASF has spread rapidly across sub-Saharan Africa, as well as mainland Europe and parts of Asia.
Australia’s head of biosecurity for the agriculture department Lyn O’Connell said the measures would keep the country’s AU$60bn agricultural industries free from the disease.
“Bringing banned products to Australia puts our environment, industries and animal health at risk. The detection of the virus in seized products at the border does not change Australia’s African swine fever-free status,” said O’Connell.
“However, the test results do reinforce the importance of continued compliance with Australia’s strict biosecurity requirements. If introduced, it [ASF] would have a significant impact on pig health and production, and contribute to wider economic impacts caused by a loss of access to overseas markets for our pork products.”
The Government urged people visiting or returning to Australia to pay attention to its biosecurity requirements and not bring banned products with them.
“If travellers are carrying foods, plant material or animal products in their luggage, they must declare them on their incoming passenger card,” O’Connell added.
“Before making online purchases, check what can and cannot be mailed to Australia. Products such as pork jerky cannot be brought into Australia except under specific import conditions. If you are unsure of an item, declare it, or don’t bring it at all.”
According to Australian Pork Limited, any passengers carrying and not declaring these goods when entering the country face fines of up to $420, 000 and imprisonment for up to 10 years.