Food Law News - UK - 2003
DEFRA Press Release (105/03), 25 March 2003
IMPORTED MEAT - Further action on illegal meat imports
More measures to tackle illegal imports of meat and plants have been drawn
up by the government in a revised action plan.
The plan, published today, is backed by an extra £25 million over 3 years,
and takes account of an assessment of the risks of foot and mouth disease from
illegal imports, also published today.
From April 11, Customs and Excise will take responsibility for anti-smuggling
controls on illegal imports of meat and other animal products imported directly
from non-EU countries at ports and airports.
The proposed new measures include:
- a new frontier enforcement strategy, with Customs aiming to detect illegal
imports of meat and animal products
- four new national strike teams of Customs officers whose priority will be
meat and animal products
- more detector dogs (from two up to six)
- continuing risk assessment, intelligence gathering and sharing
- improved measures and links to other initiatives to prevent disease spreading
- a new publicity drive to raise awareness of import rules, including in-flight
messages and adverts on seven million ticket wallets
The illegal imports risk assessment, carried out by the Veterinary Laboratories
Agency and independent consultants SafetyCraft, estimates, with 90 per cent
- that the amount of illegal meat imported annually is between 2,800 and 17,500
tonnes with an average value of 7,500 tonnes.
- the amount of this contaminated with FMD virus is estimated to be between
30 and 250kg per year, on average 95kg;
- between 20 and 680g (175g on average) of this is ingested by susceptible
Taking account of the relationship between the dose of the virus needed to
cause infection and the susceptibility of the animals, it is estimated that
the overall probability of FMD infection in Great Britain from illegal meat
and meat products is one infection between 40 years and 1,100 years, or on average
one infection in 130 years. This relates only to the risk from illegal imports.
Other factors will contribute to the overall risk of FMD, including movements
of live animals, airborne outbreaks, and transfer of virus on shoes, clothing
Food and Farming Minister Lord Whitty said:
"The risk assessment, an extremely complex exercise, shows that there
is an on-going risk from imports, although the level of risk cannot be defined
with any precision. It has given us a much better indication about what produce
from which regions and which routes and pathways inland carry the greatest risk.
This will be important in targeting enforcement activity."
"The new arrangements with Customs and Excise will make a significant
difference as they will bring to bear their resources, skills and experience
in intelligence, prevention and detection of prohibited goods to help reduce
the flow of illegal meat products entering the UK. This will reduce the risk
of animal diseases which can cause such damage to the whole of our economy."
Ministers will convene a forum of stakeholders to discuss the draft action plan
before it is finalised.
The government is also publishing a supporting document summarising and commenting
on the risk assessment in more detail.
The following notes are also provided:
- The Products of Animal Origin (Third Country Imports) (England) (Amendment)
Regulations 2003 laid on 21 March and coming into force on 11 April effect
the transfer inEngland of responsibility for enforcement of controls on animal
products imported outside the legal channels to Customs and Excise. Similar
legislative changes will be made in Scotland and Wales, also coming into force
on 11 April. Changes will also be made in Northern Ireland. Customs will draw
down their existing powers under the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979.
- A supporting document summarising and commenting on the illegal imports
risk assessment and introducing the draft updated Action plan is available
on the Defra website at www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/illegali/risk/risk_assess.htm
- The full report of the Veterinary Laboratories Agency's Risk Assessment
for the Import of Meat and Meat Products Contaminated with Foot and Mouth
Disease Virus into Great Britain and the Subsequent Exposure of GB Livestock
is available on the Defra website at www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/illegali
or from email@example.com
- The risk assessment is published as work in progress and the risk assessment
team would welcome any further data or evidence which might help to adapt
and refine the risk assessment. Its purpose is to provide a greater insight
into the current disease risks, providing a sounder evidence basis for policy
making. Comments should be sent by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The draft action plan for 2003-04 is also on the Defra website www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/illegali
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