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Uncooked prawns and other prawn products for human consumption

​​Imported uncooked prawns for human consumption

Enhanced import conditions for uncooked prawns

  • The uncooked prawn import suspension lapsed at midnight on 6 July 2017.
  • The department implemented enhanced import conditions on 7 July 2017 to facilitate safe trade in uncooked prawns and meet Australia’s appropriate level of protection (ALOP).
  • From 7 July 2017, uncooked prawns, marinated prawns and Australian uncooked prawns processed overseas (excluding those processed in an Australian government approved supply chain) were consolidated into the one product class, uncooked prawns.
  • The enhanced import conditions will remain in place while the department undertakes a review of the biosecurity risks and import conditions for prawns and prawn products for human consumption. If, during this time, the biosecurity risks for these products change, the department may amend the enhanced import conditions to ensure they meet Australia’s ALOP.
  • Detailed information on import permit conditions for uncooked prawns and prawn products imported for human consumption can be found:
  • Changes to import conditions for uncooked prawns and prawn products for human consumption are summarised below and also in the prawn products requirements table.

Summary of import conditions required pre-export

  • Enhanced import conditions apply to imports of uncooked prawns, which are summarised in Import Industry Advice Notice 65-2017.
  • The competent authorities from Argentina, Bangladesh, Brunei, China, Denmark, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, United States of America and Vietnam have provided confirmation to the department that they can meet Australia’s enhanced import conditions.
  • The department wrote to the competent authorities in Canada, France, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines and Singapore and continues to work with these and other trading partners to ensure safe trade can resume with other countries.
  • The department will continue to provide advice via Import Industry Advice Notices once additional CAs confirm in writing that they can meet the enhanced import conditions.

Total consignments imported under the enhanced import conditions

The department provides updated statistics on uncooked prawn consignments that have been imported into Australia since 7 July 2017.

Please see the following webpage: Uncooked prawn consignments.

Biosecurity labelling requirements for uncooked prawns

  • Consignments of imported uncooked prawns must also meet biosecurity labelling requirements.
  • These requirements include that:
    • The primary packaging (i.e. the retail ready packaging) of the product is clearly labelled ‘For human consumption only – not to be used as bait or feed for aquatic animals’.
    • Primary packaging must include the batch number.
    • The labels must be freezer grade labels
    • The labels must be permanent (i.e. not easily removable)
    • The labels must be stable at -20°C.
    • Secondary packaging (i.e. the outer carton) is not considered the primary or retail ready package.
  • Importers should also be mindful of food labelling requirements with other regulatory provisions, including food standards developed by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).

Sampling and laboratory testing for imported uncooked prawns:

  • Samples of uncooked prawns for WSSV and YHV1 testing will be taken by Biosecurity Officers under secure seals intact conditions at relevant Approved Arrangement locations.
  • Sixty-five prawns from 13 randomly selected cartons (5 prawns from each carton) will be taken from each importer-declared batch. A batch cannot be greater than one shipping container. Five prawns are pooled as one sample for testing.
  • The WSSV testing regime (the number of prawns taken from each batch of prawns) is designed to provide a 95% level of confidence of detecting WSSV, if present, at a prevalence of 5% in a batch of imported uncooked prawns.
  • Importers can nominate one of the three approved laboratories to conduct WSSV and YHV1 testing.
  • The department has approved a standardised testing procedure for WSSV to be used for testing imported prawns on-arrival. The standardised testing procedure has been adopted by all testing laboratories from 5 October 2017.
  • The main requirements to implement the WSSV testing procedure are:
    • The WSSV real-time PCR must run for 45 cycles.
    • A negative result for the batch is where there is no amplification of WSSV DNA within 45 cycles in all 13 samples.
    • A positive result for the batch is where there is detectable amplification of WSSV DNA before 45 cycles in one or more of the 13 samples.
  • When a laboratory reports positive results in a batch, the importer has the option to request confirmatory re-testing of samples at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL).
  • Confirmatory testing can only be carried out at AAHL. All costs of testing are borne by importers.
  • The request for a confirmatory re-test must be communicated within 5 working days to the department upon receipt of the positive test result.
  • All batches that have tested positive must be cooked, exported or destroyed within agreed time frames (usually 28 days). Please refer to cooking, disposing or exporting prawns or prawn products below. 

Applying for import permits for uncooked prawns

Applications to import uncooked prawns must include the name and address of the importer and exporter, and a description of the product to be imported. Any additional ingredients should also be provided in your application. It is recommended that applicants complete the uncooked prawns for human consumption questionnaire available through BICON, as the same information is required to accompany the application.

The application will be assessed on the above information as well as any other criteria deemed relevant by the Delegate of the Director of Biosecurity.

Trade cannot commence if the country of origin’s Competent Authority hasn’t confirmed that they can meet Australia’s enhanced import conditions. Refer above to ‘Enhanced import conditions for uncooked prawns’ for more information.

Imported breaded, battered and crumbed (BBC) prawns for human consumption

New import conditions for BBC prawns imported for human consumption have been implemented in order to facilitate safe trade while achieving Australia’s ALOP.

All BBC prawns imported from 28 September 2018 must have undergone a par-cooking step after the prawns have been coated to solidify and adhere the coating to the prawn. For more information on par-cooking please see the following webpage: Guideline – Acceptable par-cooking of BBC Prawns.

BBC prawns that have not undergone an acceptable par-cooking step must comply with the import conditions for uncooked prawns outlined above.

Inspections of BBC prawns

  • Uncooked BBC prawns are subject to a 100 per cent secure seals intact fully supervised inspection regime on-arrival.
  • Containers must remain unopened and seals intact. Biosecurity Officers must remove the seals and verify the details of the consignment as part of the inspection process.
  • The purpose of inspection is to confirm that the product meets import requirements – from 28 September 2018 this will include that BBC prawns have undergone a par-cooking step.
  • Inspection procedures may also involve attempts to wash off the coating of thawed product and visual comparisons of the product at the border to the photos and information supplied at the permit assessment step to ensure consistency.

Applying for import permits for BBC prawns

The department will assess all BBC prawn products when an importer applies for an import permit and apply the appropriate import conditions. It is recommended that applicants complete the uncooked prawns for human consumption questionnaire available through BICON, as the same information is required to accompany the application.

Applications to import uncooked breaded, battered or crumbed prawn products must include the name and address of the importer and exporter, and a description of the commodity to be imported. Import permit applications must be accompanied with the following manufacturing information:

  • The commercial product name (including brand name) as it appears on the product packaging;
  • Full list of ingredients including percentage of each ingredient to add up to 100% of the final product weight;
  • Detailed description of the production-scale manufacturing process of your proposed BBC prawn product. This can be provided with a processing flow chart or a detailed description of the manufacturing steps of this product. The department has provided guidance material  to clarify acceptable par-cooking requirements for breaded, battered or crumbed prawns. Please see the following webpage: Guideline – Acceptable par-cooking of BBC Prawns
  • Three colour photographs of each product - one of the product when frozen, one of the product when thawed, and one of the thawed product with coating separated from the prawn. Photos should be of sufficient size and resolution to clearly represent your product.
  • Colour photographs of the packaging in which the finished product will be imported. Photographs should include both the front and back including the details relating to the food preparation instructions. A pdf version of the proposed marketing label will also be accepted.

The application will be assessed on the above information as well as any other criteria deemed relevant by the Delegate of the Director of Biosecurity.

Imported cooked prawns and prawn products for human consumption

The department closely monitors imports of cooked prawns and prawn products to ensure import conditions continue to manage biosecurity risks appropriately. If biosecurity risks are considered to be changing over time, the department will amend import conditions accordingly.

Inspections of cooked prawns and prawn products

From 4 June 2018, the department introduced random seals intact fully supervised inspections for cooked prawn consignments. These randomly selected inspections will provide additional assurance that existing import conditions for cooked prawns are being met. Import conditions require that:

  • As a result of the cooking process all protein in the prawn meat has coagulated and no raw prawn meat remains; and
  • All consignments are accompanied by a health certificate issued by the competent authority that confirms the above.

Samples of the product will be taken during the inspection and the department will advise on the outcome within five working days.

Prawns or prawn products that are imported and deemed non-compliant will be directed for cooking, disposing or exporting as detailed below.

Other relevant information

Seals intact inspection requirements for imported prawns and prawn products

Brokers and importers are encouraged to contact the department to book inspections for consignments that have been directed for inspection. This will assist in reducing delays and assist the department with planning inspection activities. To request an appointment, complete the request for inspection form and email it to the department in the location where the cargo is held.

Biosecurity Industry Participants (BIPs) and importers need to be aware of the following prior to Biosecurity Officers attending premises to conduct inspection and sampling of goods:

  • Inspections can only be conducted at the approved arrangement that the department has approved for the inspection of imported prawn products. For more information, see class 2.5 requirements for prawn and prawn products.
  • Containers must remain unopened and seals intact. Biosecurity Officers must be present to inspect and verify the seal number, and then supervise the breaking of the seal and open the container as part of the inspection process. If the seals are not intact, the inspection will not proceed and product will be deemed non-compliant.
  • Two Biosecurity Officers will attend each seals intact inspection.
  • Fee for service rates will apply for each officer.
  • Expected duration of inspection is a minimum of four hours, however, it may vary depending on the quantity to be inspected, the number of batches to be sampled, etc.
  • Additional labour to assist Biosecurity Officers with handling cartons during the inspection should be considered. Please note: Biosecurity Officers will be present for the entire duration of the unpack and charges apply for the total time taken.
  • The importer is responsible for all transport costs prior to and after inspection, including cargo handling, additional labour and cold storage fees.

Prawns that are imported and deemed non-compliant must be cooked, disposed or exported as outlined below. 

Cooked prawns also remain subject to the imported food inspection and testing regime. The department will undertake biosecurity and imported food inspections at the same time where resourcing permits. However, importers may be required to make a separate appointment for imported food inspection and testing. This may cause an additional delay in the release of the goods.

Failing to comply with a Biosecurity direction is a breach of the Biosecurity Act 2015. Interference with the goods prior to inspection by a biosecurity officer will result in a direction to export being issued and possible civil or criminal prosecution. Enforcement action may be instigated where non-compliance is identified.

Cooking, disposing or exporting non-compliant prawns or prawn products  

Batches of imported uncooked prawns that fail to meet import conditions, including seals intact inspection or virus testing, must within a reasonable time period (usually 28 days) be:

  • Exported; or
  • Disposed of at facility with an approved arrangement; or
  • Treated (i.e. cooked) at a facility with an approved arrangement.

The Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) is available for confirmatory re-testing of samples that have failed virus testing. The request for a confirmatory re-test must be communicated within 5 working days to the department upon receipt of the positive test result.

Batches of imported breaded, battered or crumbed prawn products that fail to meet import conditions, including seals intact inspection, must within a reasonable time period (usually 28 days) be:

  • Exported; or
  • Disposed of at facility with an approved arrangement.

Batches of imported cooked prawns that fail to meet import conditions, including seals intact inspection, must within a reasonable time period (usually 28 days) be:

  • Exported; or
  • Disposed of at facility with an approved arrangement.
  • Treated (i.e. cooked) at a facility with an approved arrangement.

Disposal or treatment of prawns

The following fact sheets are available for disposal and cooking procedures of prawns:

Export of prawns

Biosecurity Industry Participants (BIPs) and importers need to be aware of the following requirements when they have elected to have the goods exported:

  • Departmental officers will supervise the export of all uncooked prawn products, including uncooked prawns and breaded, battered or crumbed prawn products, where the importer has elected to export the goods as their treatment option.
  • For goods that remain in the container they were imported in and have not been unpacked, an officer will verify the details and the seal number match the import documentation and the seal is intact prior to the goods being exported.
  • For goods that are being packed for export a departmental officer will need to be in attendance for the duration the container is being packed. The officer will verify the details of the goods being packed into the container and that a seal has been applied to the container prior to the goods being exported.
  • Two officers may be required when the goods are packed into a container.
  • Fee for service rates will apply for each officer.
  • Expected duration for a seal check will be a minimum of thirty minutes.
  • Expected duration for the packing of a container is expected to be 2 hours, however, it may be longer. Please note: officers will be present for the entire duration of the pack and charges apply for the total time taken to complete the packing and seal the container.
  • An adequate safe inspection area is required during the cargo packing operations.
  • The importer is responsible for all transport costs prior to and after inspection, including cargo handling, additional labour and cold storage fees.
  • To request an appointment complete the request for inspection form and email it to the department in the location where the cargo is held.
  • The Request for permission to dispose of goods/conveyance form must be completed.

Movement procedures for failed consignments of prawns

The department has developed a fact sheet outlining requirements on the movement of prawn consignments that failed to meet import conditions. Movement procedures outlined in the factsheet apply for any non-compliant consignment of prawns or prawn products.

Reporting suspected non-compliant activity

If you wish to report suspicious activities related to imported prawns that may be of a biosecurity concern, please call the Redline number on 1800 803 006. For more information, please see the department’s suggestions, compliments and complaints webpage.

Reviews of biosecurity risks

Review of import conditions

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has commenced a review of the biosecurity risks of, and import conditions for, prawns and prawn products into Australia.

Inspector-General of Biosecurity review

On 17 February 2017, the Inspector-General of Biosecurity, Dr Helen Scott-Orr, formally advised the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources of her review into biosecurity issues surrounding the outbreak of WSSV in Queensland.

The final report, which includes the department’s initial response to the recommendations, was published on 12 December 2017 and can be found at the Inspector General of Biosecurity’s website by following the link:

A review of the circumstances leading to the 2017 suspension of uncooked prawn imports into Australia and the biosecurity considerations relevant to future trade in uncooked prawns.

Senate inquiry

On 21 March 2017, the Senate adopted the recommendations from the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee’s report Import of seafood and seafood products, including prawns and uncooked prawn meat into Australia and referred the matter for further inquiry.

The final report was published on 31 October 2017. The Government’s response was tabled in Parliament on 25 May 2018. The final report, submissions, and the Government’s response can be found at the Parliament of Australia website for the biosecurity risks associated with the importation of seafood and seafood products (including uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn meat) into Australia.

Publications

Industry advice notices

January 2018 to present

DateIAN No.Description
14 Aug 201895-2018 Addition of Madagascar and Saudi Arabia to list of countries able to meet Australia’s enhanced import conditions for uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn products
27 July 201880-2018 New import conditions for breaded, battered and crumbed prawns
6 July 201869-2018 Introduced inspection of cooked prawns - Updated
30 May 201844 Introduced inspection of cooked prawns
30 May 201843 Changes to breaded, battered and crumbed prawn import conditions
9 Feb 201814 Addition of Indonesia to list of countries able to meet Australia’s enhanced import conditions for uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn products​
29 Jan 201807 Addition of the United States of America to list of countries able to meet Australia’s enhanced import conditions for uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn products

January to December 2017

DateIAN No.Description
19 Dec 2017122 Addition of Argentina to list of countries able to meet Australia’s enhanced import conditions for uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn products
19 Dec 2017121 Update on laboratories approved to test for viruses in imported raw frozen prawns
7 Sep 201784 Addition of Denmark to list of countries able to meet Australia’s enhanced import conditions for uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn products
7 Sep 201783 New approved arrangement requirements for the management of imported prawns and prawn products
25 Jul 201770 Brunei Darussalam confirm they can meet Australia’s enhanced import conditions for uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn products
20 Jul 201769 India confirm they can meet Australia’s enhanced import conditions for uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn products
12 Jul 201768 Additional countries confirm they can meet Australia’s enhanced import conditions for uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn products
6 Jul 201765 Update on temporary suspension of uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn products
30 Jun 201764 Update on temporary suspension of uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn products
15 Jun 201759 Update on temporary suspension of uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn products
31 May 201755 Update on uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn products for human consumption
16 May 201753 Review of prawns and prawn products and update on temporary suspension of uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn products
28 Apr 201745 Update on temporary suspension of uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn products
5 Apr 201735 Update on temporary suspension of uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn products
21 Mar 201723 Increased inspection of breaded, battered and crumbed prawns and prawn meat
1 Mar 201720 Update on temporary suspension of uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn products
6 Feb 201711 Update on temporary suspension of uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn products
17 Jan 201704 New sampling protocols for suspended uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn meat imports
7 Jan 201702 Suspension of uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn meat imports

Biosecurity Advice Notices

Media releases and statements

Uncooked prawn sampling declaration

​​​​Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, May 2018

This document is to be completed by importers and submitted to a departmental biosecurity officer during the inspection process for uncooked prawns.

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Contact information

For importing goods into Australia, including how to apply for an import permit, certification requirements, import conditions and queries related to BICON, please contact Imports:

Email: Imports

Phone: 1800 900 090

For enquiries related to the status of a consignment, test results, clearance and inspection of goods, re-exporting, destruction or transportation of goods, please email or phone the department in the location where the cargo is held, or contact the Client Contact Group:

Office Locations

Phone: 1800 900 090

For queries on the current review of import conditions for prawns and prawn products for human consumption:

Email: Prawn review

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