Australia is the only continent that remains free of deadly pig diseases. We are always on the lookout for new diseases that may threaten our farmer’s livestock. We refer to these as ‘emergency animal diseases’ (EAD).

Responses to an EAD are the responsibility of the state and national government Department of Agriculture.

Many EADs are highly contagious, hard to eradicate and result in high mortality rates of pigs. Some have no cure.

Here you can learn more about how our biosecurity system keeps our pigs safe.

The risk of importing fresh pork

A Biosecurity Import Risk Assessment has identified that importing fresh pork into Australia would expose our country to the threat of serious disease outbreaks.

As a result, under the existing biosecurity system chilled pork cannot be imported into Australia and sold as fresh pork.

Why is fresh pork a problem?

Processing pork through cooking, curing and smoking kills off most bacteria and viruses which are a threat to Australia’s biosecurity. While there is still a very small risk, processed pork from overseas is unlikely to expose Australia to a new disease.

In fresh pork, most of the viruses remain alive and highly contagious.

Food scraps and 'swill-feeding'

Fresh pork cannot be imported under legal trading permits. It is only illegally brought into Australia. Fresh pork brought in from overseas travellers or illegally imported in mail or cargo from overseas is a major threat to our biosecurity and industry if it should end up as food scraps and fed to pigs.

Pigs must not be fed or be allowed to eat meat or meat products, or anything that has been in contact with meat or meat products.

When pigs are fed food scraps, it is known as ‘swill-feeding’. This includes:

  • Food scraps
  • Bakery waste
  • Waste from restaurants, including untreated used cooking oils and fats
  • Any meat or meat product like pies, pizza, or deli meats
  • Table scraps or leftovers
  • Out-of-date or unsellable food from supermarkets

Many people think swill is a tasty treat for pigs. Yet, if food scraps containing infected fresh pork were fed to pigs the virus would immediately be transferred to our Aussie pigs.

In some cases, for example foot and mouth disease (FMD), the disease could then also be transferred from the pig population to other animals as well. Once pigs are infected they are amplifiers of the disease. 

Many viruses are extremely contagious to pigs and it may take only very tiny amounts to actually infect a pig and make it sick.

Potential diseases

Potential diseases that could be present in fresh pork imports include:

  • Foot and mouth disease (FMD)
  • Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS)
  • Porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus (PEDv)
  • Post-weaning multi-systemic wasting syndrome (PMWS)
  • African swine fever (ASF)
Protecting our pigs through biosecurity

It is vital that we maintain our strong biosecurity system and continue to limit Australia’s exposure to fresh pork products that may be carrying disease.

Biosecurity is what stands between Australia and the outbreak of exotic diseases. Aussie pigs WILL die without a strong biosecurity system.