6 Nov 2014

Python fillets spark alarm at airport

8:00 pm on 6 November 2014

A pack of python fillets crawling with insects has sparked a biosecurity alarm at Auckland airport.

Python fillets

The packet that contained the python fillets. Photo: Supplied

The Ministry for Primary Industries said a woman brought the fillets in last week in a box that initially appeared to be a packet of tea.

A ministry spokesperson said the passenger, who was arriving from China, told officials her mother packed the box and told her it was tea.

A quarantine inspector opened it to reveal its real contents.

Ministry for Primary Industries detection manager Brett Hickman said the passenger declared the tea box as her mother had packed it but not told her what was in it.

Mr Hickman said Chinese passengers often re-used tea packaging.

"They're fully serviceable packaging, so they put dried food in it, put it in their bag to go overseas, and then they just use a home vacuum pack kit to actually vacuum seal it up again," he said.

"At the border we always open them all because nine times out of 10 it's not actually tea in them any more, it's other products."

The meat had been passed to the Department of Conservation for inspection in case it was from an endangered species.