Biosecurity risks​ to Australian produce minimised with new x-ray unit

A 3D x-ray unit that will help detect biosecurity risks faster and more effectively has been installed at Melbourne International Airport.

The aim is to minismise the risk of pests entering Australia via passengers, mail and cargo such as fruit and vegetables.

The Rapiscan RTT 110 X-Ray unit has been in action since November 14.

Minister for agriculture David Littleproud said there will be a year-long trial of the x-Ray unit, which is a huge step forward for Australia’s biosecurity.

READ: Australian biosecurity ‘stronger than ever’

“Our clean green reputation makes Australian produce valued overseas and we have to protect that,” said Littleproud.

“We’re seeing more people, mail and cargo come through our borders. ​

“That means more risk to Aussie farmers and we’ve got to stay on top of it,” he said.

“We need to make sure they’re not bringing in pests or items carrying pests, which could destroy our farm sector.

“Our biosecurity officers do a great job but they can’t check every bag,” said Littleproud.

“Australia is a world leader in biosecurity and we always strive to be better. New technology like this X-ray unit is an important part of keeping pests out.

“This world-first trial with Biosecurity NZ will change the way we work for the better,” he said.

X-ray images from Melbourne and Auckland airports will be combined into an image library then used to create an algorithm that can instantly identify high-risk items.

The algorithm will be trialled with fruit for six-months, then on vegetables, seeds and meat.

Biosecurity screening provides critical protection for Australia’s $60 billion agricultural industries and the health of the country’s communities, environment and the national economy.