Lack of border checks make UK vulnerable to African Swine Fever

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

The UK is at risk of African Swine Fever due to a lack of border checks, The BMPA warned
The UK is at risk of African Swine Fever due to a lack of border checks, The BMPA warned

Related tags Meat & Seafood African swine fever

A lack of biosecurity checks on the border have made the UK more vulnerable to African Swine Fever (ASF), according to the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA).

Fears over the spread of the disease were heightened this weekend, after it was discovered in a pig farm close to the French border, 600km closer than previously reported. The BMPA speculated this was likely via contaminated meat products being discarded near the farm by people traveling into the area. 

Closer to home 

While the UK is currently free of ASF, the discovery so much closer to home has raised concerns among processors that the Government’s decision to shelve all border checks on food until further notice had left them vulnerable to an outbreak of the virus. 

Though less transmissible than foot and mouth disease, consequences of an outbreak in the UK would include entire herds being culled and an immediate ban on UK pork exports to some of our biggest international partners.  

The BMPA noted that inbound visitors to the UK are no longer allowed to bring in food items post-Brexit, but said this ruled was being waived and a lack of signage at ports meant people entering the country were ill informed of the new rules. 

‘Aware of the risks’ 

Nick Allen, chief executive of The British Meat Processors Association said: “We are calling on the government to make travelers more aware of the risks of bringing prohibited food items into the UK and to encourage them to dispose of those products responsibly before entry. We would also like to see spot checks introduced as a further measure to improve biosecurity.” 

The BMPA acknowledged that these measures could not completely insulate Britain from ASF, but added any additional measures would be better than the open border policy that is currently in place. 

Meanwhile, the UK government’s U-turn on border strategy will help clear up red tape surrounding imports but could endanger parts of the industry to potentially devastating disease risks, warned members of the food and drink industry.​ 

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