Edible bird's nests seized in quarantine swoop

4 June 2012

Edible bird’s nests with a resale value of AU$30,000 have been seized by biosecurity officers as part of Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) compliance operations.

“Approximately 14kg of edible bird’s nest was carried by a passenger arriving on a flight from Indonesia and was intercepted at Sydney Airport last week,” said First Assistant Secretary for DAFF Quarantine Operations, Tim Chapman.

“The passenger failed to declare the goods and prosecution action has been instigated. These goods are an illegal import and cannot be imported under any circumstances.” 

The bird’s nests have been secured as evidence and will be destroyed at a later date.

The illegal importation was detected after DAFF Biosecurity received a Redline call in April regarding illegally imported edible bird’s nests being sold in Australia.   The intelligence developed from the Redline call enabled DAFF to target the passenger for inspection.

Bird’s nest is considered a delicacy and is the principle ingredient in Bird’s Nest Soup and is commonly used in Chinese medicine and cosmetics for its high content of bird saliva from regurgitation.

“Bird’s nest is listed amongst articles likely to introduce a disease such as Avian Influenza and Newcastle Disease,” Mr Chapman said.

“Biosecurity breaches are taken seriously; all food, plant material and animal products must be declared whether you are carrying them with you or importing them.”

“Anyone discovered smuggling illegal goods as part of a commercial importation will find that their chickens will come home to roost and can be subject to fines of up to $1.1 million and possible imprisonment.”

The Redline is a free call service for people to confidentially report information about suspected breaches of Australian quarantine, meat or food inspection laws.

DAFF Biosecurity Redline - 1800 803 006.