Waste management company dumped imported pork products

Terry Sim, 22/03/2023

Pork products that were incorrectly disposed of. The company responsible has now executed an Enforceable Undertaking for two years. Image – DAFF.

AN Australian-wide waste management business will not be fined despite incorrectly dumping imported pork products at a non-approved disposal facility, according to the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry.

The department issued a media release on Tuesday that the business had breached the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Biosecurity Act) by incorrectly dumping imported meat products and would be the first to be subject to a new two-year monitoring program.

The Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Andrew Metcalfe has accepted an Enforceable Undertaking from the company. The company will be required to meet several undertakings over the next 24 months. These undertakings include requirements to re-train staff and engage an independent auditor to ensure they are meeting their obligations in relation to their approved arrangement.

A departmental spokesperson said evidence of these undertakings is required to be provided to the department for approval.

“Failure can result in the company being referred to the Federal Court.”

The department is responsible for managing Australia’s biosecurity risks, authorising individuals and companies to carry out specific biosecurity activities under the Approved Arrangements (AA) system. This allows those entities to manage biosecurity risks of imported goods which are subject to biosecurity controls.

However, despite Mr Metcalfe stating that “any breach of process could have had significant consequences for Australia’s environment, economy, and animal health,” and industry-wide extension on the risks that imported pork products represent for a Foot and Mouth Disease incursion, the DAFF media release initially made no mention of this or that the incorrectly dumped material was pork.

The department also did not specify how the imported pork products entered Australia or were able to be dumped incorrectly; however, sites operating the Approved Arrangements system and likely to handle this material include sea and airfreight depots and heat treatment sites.

A departmental spokesperson said the waste management company would not be identified.

“Due to operational and privacy reasons (we) are unable to provide this information.”

The spokesperson said the pork product dumping was not related to Agriculture Victoria compliance action against food waste outlets illegally supplying food waste to pig farms or the importation of the pork floss product found on Melbourne retail shelves last year .

The DAFF spokesperson said the pork products were taken to a non-approved waste disposal facility and buried. This did not involve placing the products in the animal food chain or represent a swill feeding risk with pigs, nor were any of the dumped products traced to pig farms or fed to pigs, the spokesperson said.

Mr Metcalfe said Approved Arrangements play an important role in the balance between keeping up with the flow of goods into the country and managing Australia’s biosecurity risks.

“We are keen to work with our partners to ensure our high standards are met and maintained.

“We see biosecurity as a team effort, and I strongly encourage all biosecurity industry participants to ensure they are complying with the standards laid out in their Approved Arrangements,” he said.

“Our team can be contacted for any support or information.”

The department’s Biosecurity and Compliance Group deputy secretary Dr Chris Locke said Australia allows biosecurity industry participants to manage imported goods and containers at Approved Arrangements sites. This reduces delays for businesses importing a wide range of products including food, timber, and plants.

“The department conducts regular compliance checks and auditing to ensure biosecurity industry participants are complying with Australia’s biosecurity laws, which protect our agricultural industries as well as our unique environment and wildlife,” Dr Locke said.

Under the Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Act 2014, Enforceable Undertakings allow for the department to respond to beaches of the Biosecurity Act by requiring entities to come back into compliance and prevent future breaches, including by requiring education and training to improve processes.

If the Enforceable Undertaking is breached, the undertaking may be enforced by the Federal Court which could issue an order directing compliance, require financial benefit from the failure to comply be surrendered and for any associated damages to be paid.

And why no mention of pork, swill feeding and FMD?

The departmental spokesperson would not say how the waste management company was able to incorrectly dump the imported meat products, nor what gaps in Australia’s border and internal biosecurity process the case had highlighted.

“Approved Arrangements are approved to conduct certain functions on the department’s behalf.

“These arrangements were not met on this occasion,” the spokesperson said.

“The breach highlights the department’s vigilance and monitoring of approved entities.”

Sheep Central also asked if the secretary believed that distributing media releases without clearly stating what the products were or the specific risk they represented to agriculture and Australia’s economy was in the best interests of the general and farming communities and of informing them of the risks involved in illegal food disposal and swill feeding.

“The department takes non-compliance seriously and responds to breaches of the Biosecurity Act 2015, to safeguard the public,” was the spokesperson’s response.

When asked why the release did not mention the words/phrases ‘pork, swill feeding or, Foot and Mouth Disease, the spokesperson said the department takes non-compliance seriously.

“While inadvertent non-compliance can occur in any system, the department will take swift action to ensure entities come back into compliance and prevent future breaches.”

For more information about Approved Arrangements, visit the department’s website.


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  1. Neil Barrie, 22/03/2023

    An appalling transgression of meat safety protocols, ignorance is no excuse.
    Name and shame the company so all those who abide by Australia’s food safety standards can deliver the ultimate message to these cowboys: “You are not getting any business from us”

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