Starting today (Thursday 1 September), it will no longer be legal to bring pork and pork products weighing more than two kilograms into the UK, unless they are produced to the EU’s commercial standards. These new controls do not apply to commercial imports.
The decision to clamp down on pork imports followed the publication of a new risk assessment from the Animal and Plant Health Agency, which recognised the chance that the ASF virus might be brought into Great Britain 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. Defra hoped this measure would help limit possibly infected pig meat being brought into Great Britain through various means, such as in passengers’ luggage or in vehicles.
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.”
Spreading in Europe
While ASF poses no risk to human health, it is a highly contagious disease for pigs and wild boar. Recent months have seen the disease spread in mainland Europe, leading to the deaths of thousands of pigs and causing significant disruption to the meat trade.
Members of the meat industry, including the British Meat Processors Associations (BMPA), have been calling for stricter controls on the import of pork products.
Nick Allen, chief executive of BMPA, said: “Our concern had been mounting over the worrying increase in small van loads of meat entering the UK from areas with African Swine Fever, but with no border checks.
“So, we're extremely relieved that these new measures are to be brought in with immediate effect. The Government listened carefully to our concerns and acted quickly to tackle the growing threat to the British Isles of African Swine Fever.”