Preventing foot-and-mouth disease

An outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in Australia is most likely to be caused by:

  • the importation of contaminated food, in particular salted or cured meats
  • the feeding of 'swill' (food or food waste containing certain animal products) to pigs.

Preventing these illegal activities is the best way to prevent FMD from occurring here.

Keep illegal food products out of Australia

Australia's quarantine laws and border surveillance restrict the importation of FMD-susceptible animals and products, including salted and cured meats.

Travellers entering Australia must declare:

  • all food, plant material and animal products to ensure they are free from pests and diseases
  • if they have visited a farm while overseas.

Recently, FMD virus fragments were detected in meat confiscated at Australian airports by the federal Department of Agriculture. You can help keep FMD out of Australia by sharing this information with any travellers you know, particularly if they will be visiting or working on farms in Australia.

Do not feed swill to pigs

All Australian states and territories have laws against feeding swill to pigs. This is because swill can contain a range of harmful viruses, including FMD. The FMD virus can remain in food even after chilling, freezing or inadequate cooking.

Swill is food or food waste containing:

  • meat
  • meat products
  • eggs
  • milk or milk products not of Australian origin
  • anything that has been in contact with the above items.

For example, it is illegal to feed pigs:

  • table scraps
  • meat pies
  • sausage rolls
  • bacon and cheese rolls
  • Caesar salad with bacon pieces
  • deli meats
  • milk or milk products not of Australian origin
  • untreated used cooking oils and fats
  • anything that has been in contact with swill through collection, storage or transport in contaminated containers (such as meat trays or takeaway food containers).

Legislation in all Australian states and territories, including Queensland's Biosecurity Act 2014, outlaws feeding swill to pigs. This applies to all pigs, including pet pigs and pigs owned by hobby farmers. Penalties for swill feeding include fines and imprisonment.

You can help by informing any pig owners you know about the risks of swill feeding. If you suspect that swill is being supplied to pig owners, or pigs are being fed swill, then report it to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.