The federal agricultural department is investigating after three customers bought fridges “infested” with an exotic pest beetle.
The federal agricultural department is investigating after three customers bought fridges “infested” with an exotic pest beetle.

‘Infested fridges’ bought from Good Guys

A beetle considered a biosecurity risk to Australia's agricultural industry has been "intercepted" at multiple locations in the ACT after a number of people bought "infested" fridges.

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment last week revealed it was "managing and investigating" the discovery of Khapra beetles in several recently imported containers and cargo.

It is number two on Australia's list of National Priority Plant Pests and poses a "major threat" to the grains, rice and nut industries.

A Khapra beetle. Picture: Department of Agriculture
A Khapra beetle. Picture: Department of Agriculture

"Australia maintains a pest free status for Khapra beetle, a serious pest of stored grain and dried food products," it said in a statement.

"The recent interceptions occurred in imported non-food goods, such as refrigerators, car parts, nuts and bolts, as well as empty containers and high-risk food goods such as spices and flour."

The department states Khapra beetle larvae are 1.6-1.7mm long, golden brown and have "distinctive hairs across the body, including longer hairs at the end of the body that resemble a tail".

"Adults are less common, and a 2-3mm long, oval-shaped, light yellowish brown to dark brown and covered with many fine hairs."

Khapra beetle in larval phase. Picture: Department of Agriculture
Khapra beetle in larval phase. Picture: Department of Agriculture

A department spokesman told news.com.au on Wednesday the beetle had been "intercepted" at six locations.

"Three stores have been closed and it is yet to be determined when they will reopen," he said.

"Three customers had purchased a fridge from a retail outlet.

"The infested refrigerators were all imported in the same container.

"Tracing, surveillance, and additional fumigation has been undertaken to ensure the interceptions do not pose an ongoing biosecurity risk."

The Good Guys stores in Fyshwick, Belconnen and Tuggeranong have all shut, The Canberra Times reports.

Three of The Good Guys stores in the ACT were closed.
Three of The Good Guys stores in the ACT were closed.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development in Western Australia states the Khapra beetle is a "regulated quarantine pest in many countries".

"Our international trade would be severely impacted if it became established here," it states.

The federal agricultural department on Wednesday said a range of "urgent measures" are being put in place to "safeguard" the country from the Khapra beetle, including stricter import conditions for high-risk goods.

"The department is analysing global trade patterns to gain a better understanding as to why these interceptions are taking place, and how non-food goods can become infested," a spokesman said.

"It is likely that Khapra beetle can hitchhike in containers that previously carried high-risk items."

Earlier this year, it stated the beetle is a pest with the potential to "damage our agricultural and horticultural industries and our environment".

The estimated damage it would make to the economy is $15.5 billion over 20 years through revenue losses arising from reduced production and exports.

The department believes Australia's biosecurity requirements need to be "expanded and strengthened" to prevent a khapra beetle "incursion".

News.com.au has contacted The Good Guys for comment.

Biosecurity concerns can be raised at awe.gov.au/report or via the See. Secure. Report. hotline on 1800 798 636.

Originally published as 'Infested fridges' bought from Good Guys



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