Vineyard workers pay the price for labelling banned pork sausages as squid

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Media contact: MPI media team

Two Thai vineyard workers have both been fined $1,900 and ordered to pay court costs of $130 each after bringing in high-risk pork sausages to New Zealand from Asia.

Twenty-four-year-old Benjamat Pingwong and Orawan Leekongbab, 42, pleaded guilty to one charge each under the Biosecurity Act when they appeared in the Blenheim District Court earlier this month.

The pair's offending came to light after they arrived in New Zealand on separate flights directly from Singapore one day apart from each other in October last year.

The court heard that when biosecurity staff checked both women's luggage, they discovered a sealed package labelled 'dried squid' but which actually contained pork sausages as well as dried squid.

The women denied knowledge of the hidden sausages and both blamed their mothers for putting the product into the same packet as the dried squid.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Compliance Investigations Manager, Gary Orr, says this sort of offending is very serious.

"You can't underestimate the risk posed by bringing prohibited food stuffs into New Zealand," says Mr Orr.

"We're a nation that relies heavily, in an economic sense, on our primary industries, so the introduction of any invasive pests and diseases through the importation of risk goods makes us particularly vulnerable.

"Pork is prohibited from entry into New Zealand and is considered especially risky due to the prevalence of foot-and-mouth disease in Thailand.

"Biosecurity breaches have huge impacts on the country as a whole and have the potential to have a serious impact on our international reputation as well."

The pork was disposed of.

Pictures

Plastic bag labelled dried squid next to evidence tag with the description 'Pork sausages inside dried squid bag.' Plastic wrapped bag labelled dried squid next to evidence tag with the description ‘Re-enactment of dried squid package. Plastic bag labelled dried squid with 2 internal bags – one containing dried squid, the other pork sausage pieces.
The pork sausages were concealed in bags containing dried squid  

Photos available on request by emailing media@mpi.govt.nz

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