55-2017 – Update on uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn products for human consumption

​31 May 2017

Who does this notice affect?

This notice is of interest to importers of uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn meat products and associated industry participants and retailers.

What has changed?

The department can now provide detailed risk management measures for marinated prawn products.

This notice replaces import industry advice notice 53-2017.

The following risk management measures for uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn meat that is marinated for human consumption (uncooked marinated prawns) must be met:

  • Prior to export to Australia all batches must be found (post-processing) to be free of white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) and yellow head virus (YHV) based on recognised World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) testing measures for demonstrating absence of disease.
  • Following arrival in Australia each consignment must undergo seals intact inspection and testing for WSSV and YHV at an approved laboratory – Agrigen, Advanced Analytical Australia (AAA) or Elizabeth MacArthur Agricultural Institute (EMAI).
  • The competent authority in the country of export must also provide a revised model health certificate, including all required health attestations.

The following criteria will be used to determine if a marinated product is sufficiently highly processed:

The prawns must either:

  1. Have had at least the head and shell removed (last shell segment and tail fans permitted) and have been either:
    1. coated in a wet marinade (wet marinade flavour components represent no less than 12% of the total weight of the product)
    2. coated in a dry marinade (<2% of total weight of the flavour component included in the marinade is liquid and dry marinade flavour components are clearly seen to cover the product)
    3. marinated and placed on skewers (the wet or dry marinade components are clearly seen to cover the product)
    4. marinated and prepared and packaged ready for retail trade (wet or dry marinade components are clearly seen to cover the product).
  1. Have had at least the head removed, have been butterflied and meet the conditions for (a) wet marinade or (b) dry marinade.

For importers that hold existing import permits for marinated product that were affected by the suspension:

  • These import permits will remain suspended until further notice. The department will vary these import permits to include new import conditions on a country by country basis, only after it has received confirmation that the competent authorities in exporting countries can comply with the import conditions. The department will contact import permit holders individually when it is ready to vary relevant import permits.

For importers wishing to apply for new import permits for marinated product:

  • The department will only accept import permit applications after it has confirmation that the competent authority in the relevant exporting country can comply with Australia’s import conditions. Further industry advice notices and BICON alerts will be provided when the department is ready to accept applications from specific exporting countries.

This exemption does not apply to uncooked marinated prawns currently held under biosecurity control including at cold stores and at Approved Arrangement sites. Prawns that test positive for WSSV must be either exported, disposed of, or cooked.

The release of these risk management measures are a result of the department’s ongoing work to resume the safe trade in uncooked prawns and prawn products as soon as possible.

The department is also undertaking a review of the biosecurity risk of, and the import conditions for, cooked and uncooked prawns and prawn products from all countries. More information is available through Biosecurity Advice Notice (2017-07).

Previous exemptions that have been made since the temporary suspension of uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn products include:

  • uncooked Australian wild-caught prawns exported overseas for processing, and re-exported to Australia (other than uncooked Australian wild-caught prawns exported to Thailand for processing in a facility approved by Thailand’s Department of Fisheries, and re-exported to Australia);
  • prawns sourced from Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone;
  • imported bait for aquatic use, pet fish food and aquaculture feeds which contain uncooked prawns and prawn meat;
  • dried prawns and shelf-stable prawn-based food products;
  • uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn meat sourced from Australian territory other than the area to which the white spot syndrome virus Movement Control Order relates;
  • uncooked Australian wild-caught prawns exported to Thailand for processing in a facility approved by Thailand’s Department of Fisheries, and re-exported to Australia; and
  • uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn meat (1) intended to be transhipped goods for outgoing passenger vessels engaged in international travels; (2) intended for use as laboratory or food samples for analysis.

Contact information

If you require further information please call 1800 900 090 or email Imports.

Biosecurity import conditions are available on the department’s Biosecurity Import Conditions database (BICON).