An apple a day: Surprising security threats at Australian Airports

The Department of Agriculture has revealed its list of the top ten dangerous foods found within passengers’ luggage, the worst offender is the apple.
September 20, 2014

The Department of Agriculture has recently revealed its list of the top ten dangerous foods found within passengers’ luggage throughout eight international airports in the last year. 

Statistics show that huge amounts of ‘high-risk’ food items are being destroyed at Australian airports every year, and the worst offender is the humble apple.

According to the Department of Agriculture, apples are capable of introducing potentially devastating diseases to the crops of Australia. Their dangerous nature is also shared with dates, salami, and other types of sausage.

Pork and poultry also contributed significantly to the sixty tonnes of food that was destroyed by officers of biosecurity between 2013 and 2014, due to the meat’s risk to agriculture and animals. Beef, meat jerky, beans, bananas, and other fruits rounded out the list of foods that were most commonly left undeclared at airports, with the potential to introduce new pests and diseases to the country.

Serious Safety Problems with Undeclared Foods

In the last year, almost twenty-four thousand travellers from around the world were screened by Australian biosecurity officers for risk materials at international airports. The amount equates to around 8.7 million people out of the total 17 million who successfully entered the country.

Some of the discoveries that were made were truly shocking, including four kilograms of frozen frog meat found at the Melbourne International Airport, which belonged to a passenger travelling from Vietnam. Although frog meat is allowed in Australia, it is only permitted in tinned form, and cannot be allowed into the country if it is fresh or frozen.

In Sydney, officers discovered half of a suckling pig within a man’s luggage, capable of carrying serious exotic and problematic disease including classic swine fever, African swine fever, and foot and mouth disease.

Maintaining Biosecurity Standards

Barnaby Joyce, Australia's Federal Minister for Agriculture stated that the process of maintaining the enviable biosecurity status of Australia was difficult, especially in consideration of the huge numbers of goods and people arriving in international airports every day.

Mr Joyce commented that the risks that are managed at the borders into Australia are extremely serious, as undeclared plant materials, foods, and animal products that are delivered from overseas can introduce diseases and pests into the country. Furthermore, these biosecurity risks can also have a serious impact on Australia’s $52 billion agricultural sector.

The minister suggested that the evidence of officers finding and confiscating high-risk items in airports demonstrates the excellent work Australia is doing in helping to protect the animal and plant industries of the country.