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10 Sep, 2012

Australia Warns Asian Travellers About Food Import Rules for Upcoming “Autumn Moon Festival”


7 September 2012, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry – A gift of mooncakes to mark the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is a practice celebrated by Asian communities around the world. However, the tradition poses a biosecurity threat if it brings unwanted pests and diseases into Australia.

Each year the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) asks people receiving gifts from overseas to be mindful of the risks posed to Australia’s environment and the agriculture and tourism industries by customary gifts. The ingredients considered a biosecurity risk include egg yolk, meat and nut fillings, fresh pomelo, star fruit and taro (yams).

DAFF’s First Assistant Secretary (Border Compliance) Tim Chapman, said strong biosecurity measures protect Australia’s plant, animal and human health during events like the Moon festival, but work best when the whole community is aware of risks.

“It’s important to remember that we all benefit from biosecurity. Australia’s strong biosecurity system has kept us free from many of the pests and diseases present in other parts of the world. This has had significant economic, environmental and community benefits.

“Everyone can do their part to ensure Australia is protected, and inform their family and friends overseas about Australia’s strict biosecurity conditions,” Mr Chapman said.

“To reduce the possibility of goods being delayed or seized, people sending gifts from overseas should familiarise themselves with Australia’s biosecurity conditions as items that contain food, animal or plant materials could pose a risk.

“Visitors to Australia should be aware that on arrival, their luggage could be checked for items that may pose a biosecurity risk through an x-ray machine, by a detector dog team, or inspected by a biosecurity officer.

“Items ordered online and sent by mail will undergo similar checks. Declaring items on your Incoming Passenger Card does not automatically mean they will be confiscated, however failing to declare risk items could result in a fine or possible prosecution.

“In many cases, most items are returned after inspection, with some products requiring treatment to make them safe. When treatment is not an option the officer will discuss alternatives with you.”

DAFF Biosecurity’s role is to protect Australia’s biosecurity status, which underpins the productivity of our primary industries and protects the environment. For more information on what can and cannot be mailed or brought into Australia during this festival, visit the Autumn Moon page or call 1800 020 504 (free call in Australia).