NPA welcomes new restrictions on pork imports to protect pig herd from ASF
The new control, which comes into force in September, will strengthen the requirements for bringing pork and pork products into Great Britain from the EU and EFTA states.
It will no longer be legal to bring in pork or pork products weighing over two kilograms, unless they are produced to the EU’s commercial standards. This does not apply to commercial imports, which remain unaffected by the control.
This action comes following the publication of a new risk assessment by the Animal and Plant Health Agency, which recognises that the chance that the ASF virus may be brought into Great Britain now stands at ‘medium risk’.
It found that the most likely way the virus could be introduced to Great Britain is by a member of the public bringing pork or pork products back from an ASF-affected country. This measure will help limit possibly infected pig meat being brought into Great Britain through various means, such as in passengers’ luggage or in vehicles.
ASF has emerged in new areas in mainland Europe in recent months, notably in Germany and Italy, where human spread has been blamed on the virus suddenly appearing hundreds of kilometres away from existing cases. This ongoing spread of ASF in a number of European has resulted in the deaths of thousands of pigs and caused significant disruption to the meat trade, including damaging export bans, particularly in Germany.
It has also heightened concerns in the UK particularly in light of the decision by the Government to abandon plans to introduce full checks on EU food imports in July. This prompted calls from the NPA and others for the Government to take action to reduce the risk of the ASF virus getting into the country.
The Government acknowledged that with no vaccine available, the disease 'poses a significant risk to our domestic pig herd and our long-term ability to export pork and other pork products around the globe'.
Biosecurity Minister Lord Richard Benyon said: “An outbreak of African swine fever is one of the biggest threats our pig industry faces today. We are not complacent and this decisive and proportionate action will stop the entry of pork products that pose the greatest risk. It is essential we maintain the highest levels of biosecurity and all visitors to the UK will need to abide by these new regulations.”
The UK’s Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer Richard Irvine said: “If African swine fever ever reached the UK it would have a severe and damaging impact on our pigs and pig industry. A single outbreak of this highly infectious disease would also harm relations with our trading partners and threaten the livelihoods of thousands of our pig farmers.
“We are taking this action to limit the risk of disease spreading by banning people bringing in high-risk pork and pork products that could carry this virus until further notice. Everyone can do their bit to help stop animal diseases spreading to this country by simply not bringing pork and other meats onto our shores.”
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