Tiger's penis, bottled shark among biosecurity curiosities

No wriggle room ... Seized snake meat.
No wriggle room ... Seized snake meat.
Croc shock ... A full-sized crocodile skin.

Croc shock ... A full-sized crocodile skin.

A tiger's penis, a bear's gall bladder, cheese-flavoured bugs and smoked bacon in chocolate were among the strangest and wackiest items travellers tried to bring into Australia in 2012.

While the idea of smoked bacon in chocolate or bacon peanut brittle from America may sound delicious to some, it does present a serious risk to Australia's industry with import conditions on pork products designed to guard against disease such as foot and mouth.

Other items are banned under international trade agreements and to protect endangered species.

Officials at Melbourne Airport confiscated a tiger penis and bear gall bladder from Vietnam and fresh snake and turtle meat from China, which could carry diseases that may affect local animals.

Wall decorations made from rice paddy seeds were also found.

"Unhulled and unprocessed seeds could be infested with insects, infected, or be contaminated with soil or prohibited or restricted seeds," the Department of Agriculture said.

Horse meat from Uzbekistan was also seized as were cacti from South America.

"Live plants and the soil they are in can be contaminated with plant disease or exotic pests and are a serious risk to our horticulture and agricultural industries," the department said.

Biosecurity officers also found a whole shark in a jar and cheese-flavoured bugs that had possible unknown insects or diseases at Sydney airport.

Painted chicken feet and dried pig ears were also confiscated and destroyed because of swine and avian influenza concerns.

All the items were seized and destroyed by biosecurity officers at airports.

The department said many of the weird items found could have been bought in for use in Chinese medicine or simply as a curiosity.

Tim Chapman from Department of Agriculture said the items could bring serious diseases and pests into Australia.

“Biosecurity protects Australia's plant, animal and human health by reducing the risk of unwanted pests and diseases arriving in the country,” Mr Chapman said.

“I urge anyone wanting to bring food, plant or animal material of any kind into Australia to first check if they can bring them."

Information about what can and cannot be brought into Australia can be found at www.daff.gov.au/travel.

This story Tiger's penis, bottled shark among biosecurity curiosities first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.