We’ve all heard about the increase in online shopping due to COVID-19 and subsequent rise in parcel deliveries, but have you stopped to consider how this has impacted biosecurity?

Between January and April 2020, biosecurity officers and detector dogs intercepted around 30,000 mail items at Australia’s international mail centres that posed a potential pest or disease threat. This was 9,000 more mail items containing biosecurity risk material than the same four-month period last year.

Findings included:

  • 26,000 mail items containing seeds. Seeds and plants are a biosecurity risk because they can carry pathogens or pests that can threaten the environment and horticulture industries.
  • Around 1,800 parcels containing animal products, including a parcel that contained 40 eggs that was heavily infested with live insects. Eggs can carry significant risks, including Newcastle disease and avian influenza.
  • More than 600 parcels containing meat including pork slices, sausages and 925g of pork buns. Animal products and meat can carry animal biosecurity risks including African swine fever, which could devastate Australia’s pork industry.

Mail items that pose a biosecurity risk and do not meet import conditions are directed for immediate export back to the overseas sender, or immediately destroyed. Anyone found to breach Australia’s biosecurity conditions may be subject to an investigation and possible criminal prosecution.

For more information of what to consider when you’re shopping online, to ensure you adhere to Australia’s biosecurity laws, visit awe.gov.au/online-shopping.

The information in this article was sourced from 9 July 2020 media release issued by Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.