January 18, 2024


UK concerned over illegal pork imports potentially carrying ASF


United Kingdom authorities are concerned over the threat of African swine fever (ASF) entering the country through illegal pork imports, BBC News reported.


Port health officials at Dover, a coastal town in England's south-eastern county of Kent, fear that they are merely scratching the surface of the issue, with ASF spreading across Europe and posing potential devastating consequences for the UK's swine farming industry.


Since the introduction of checks in September 2022, port authorities have seized a staggering 60 tonnes of illegal pork. Lucy Manzano, head of port health and public protection at Dover District Council, emphasised the severity of the situation, stating that if ASF were to enter the UK, it could lead to culling programmes, export bans, and profound consequences for swine farmers and the wild swine.


Manzano, advocating for increased staff to carry out checks, revealed that over a tonne of illegal pork was discovered in three vehicles. She stressed that these findings are just the beginning, and controls need to be strengthened, not reduced.


The UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) assured that preventing an outbreak of ASF is a top biosecurity priority. They highlighted the strict import controls in place and ongoing collaboration with port health authority officers to enforce these measures effectively.


However, concerns were raised about the government's plans to relocate checks from Dover to Sevington, 35 km inland. Manzano warned that such a move could increase risks and further reduction of resources at the border would impact what reaches the shelves.


In response, a government spokesperson defended the decision, asserting that it is essential for protecting biosecurity and ensuring confidence in the country's exports. The move to Sevington aims to maintain high biosecurity standards while reducing operating costs and burdens on traders.


-       BBC News

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