Foot-and-mouth disease found in Aussie meat: What's going on?

Foot-and-mouth disease found in Aussie meat: What’s going on?

Sad news for meat lovers in Australia. Viral fragments of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) have been detected in imported beef and pork.

Viral fragments of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and African Swine Fever have been traced in beef and pork products imported here from Indonesia and China. The first discovery was made in Chinese pork floss, which was up for sale in Melbourne. Of course, this product had now been seized from all retailers.

“We have detected FMD and African swine fever viral fragments in a small number of pork products for sale in the Melbourne CBD that were imported from China,” says Australia’s Agriculture Minister, Murray Watt. “In addition, several other pork products for retail sale have tested positive for African swine fever viral fragments.”

Credit: Nick Moir

Yikes! Is it finally time to give in to the hype and try veganism? And what the heck is foot-and-mouth disease anyway?? Not gonna lie, some of us out here thought foot-and-mouth disease was just a made-up figure of speech for when you say shitty things without thinking first.

But apparently no – and it’s pretty bloody serious: “Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious animal disease that affects cattle, sheep, goats and pigs,” write the Australian Department of Agriculture. “An incursion of the virus would have severe consequences for Australia’s animal health and trade.”

foot in mouth disease in Australia
A cow getting checked for signs of FMD. Credit: Perdiansyah / AFP

As reported by ABC News, both FMD and African Swine Fever have already begun to spread across Asia. Experts warn that an outbreak of either one of these livestock diseases on Aussie shores could cost our economy approximately 80 billion dollars over 10 years.

So what can we do about it? Well, for one, the Government has now introduced citric foot mats at international airports, which will be used to clean the shoes of travellers from Indonesia to Australia: “They are sprayed with citric acid, which will dislodge dirt from the sole of people’s shoes and cover it in acid,” explains Watt.

NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

They’ve also pledged an extra $14m in biosecurity funding, in an effort to prevent an ongoing spread of FMD. This funding will enable the onboarding of new biosecurity officers at airports and mail centres, as well as provide technical support packages for Indonesia.

In a concluding statement at Sydney International Airport, Watt said: “We need the travelling public to take this seriously.”