July 15, 2022

 

UK at risk of African swine fever due to lack of border checks


 

The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) said the UK is at risk of African swine fever (ASF) due to a lack of border checks, following fears of infection after ASF was detected at a swine farm close to the French border, Food Manufacture reported.

 

The ASF infection was found 600km closer than was previous reported, and the BMPA said it was likely caused by contaminated meat products discarded near the farm.

 

Although ASF has not yet been detected in the UK, the discovery so close to home has caused processors to worry that the UK government's decision to halt all food border checks until further notice has left them open to an ASF outbreak.

 

Even though it is less contagious than foot and mouth disease, the UK would be forced to cull its entire herds and immediately stop exporting pork to some of its biggest trading partners.

 

Following Brexit, visitors to the UK are no longer permitted to bring in food items, but the BMPA noted that this restriction was being waived and claimed that a lack of port signage left visitors unaware of the new regulations.

 

Nick Allen, chief executive of The British Meat Processors Association, said they are urging the government to increase travellers' awareness of the dangers of bringing in restricted food items to the UK and to motivate them to properly dispose of those items before entry. As an additional step to increase biosecurity, they also favour the introduction of spot checks.

 

The BMPA acknowledged that these precautions could not completely protect the UK from ASF, but added that any additional precautions would be preferable to the current open border policy.

 

Members of the food and drink industry warned that the UK government's reversal on its border strategy could expose certain sectors of the sector to potentially fatal disease risks while also helping to reduce red tape surrounding imports.

 

-      Food Manufacture

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