CONFIRMED detections of foot and disease in meat at Australian airports has prompted a warning from agriculture minister David Littleproud to wield the big stick for those who do the wrong thing.

According to the office of Mr Littleproud, studies have estimated $50bn of economic losses over ten years if there was a large to medium outbreak of FMD in Australia.

FMD is found in several Asian nations including China but is not present in Indonesia.

“I expect the Department of Agriculture to issue fines against any person who fails to declare meat in their luggage,” Mr Littleproud said.

“I’m not interested in excuses. If foot and mouth disease got to Australia it’d be a genuine disaster.”

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According to Mr Littleproud, testing late last year and early this year on meat products resulted in the discovery of two samples (out of 283) contaminated with FMD virus fragments.

Another sample being inconclusive was reported to be inconclusive.

The two positive FMD samples and one inconclusive sample were from products declared by passengers.

Mr Littleproud said the results did not change Australia’s FMD-free status.

“Wherever possible, travellers who fail to declare will be issued with an infringement notice and fine for hundreds of dollars, for providing false or misleading information/ Incoming Passenger Card document,” he said. “These actions are recorded and form part of future intervention approach for targeting non-compliant travellers.”

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