NI authorities find African swine fever DNA in illegal import

Animal Health

300kg of illegal produce was seized at Northern Ireland ports in the month of June. Amongst them, a sausage illegally imported from Asia tested at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) had African swine fever DNA traces. This revelation does not affect NI’s disease-free status, but it is a timely reminder of the need to check and control what holidaymakers are bringing into the country in terms of meat and dairy products. Consequently, ASF controls at ports and airports will be increased, together with a new poster campaign aimed at travellers from areas of the world affected by African swine fever.

President of the British Veterinary Association, Simon Doherty, said: “It’s very encouraging to see that Government vets and inspectors are united in their vigilance to prevent the incursion of this deadly disease. We are fortunate in Northern Ireland to have a surveillance facility like the AFBI that can carry out quick and effective testing, and continuous monitoring for disease risks.”

“NI authorities find African swine fever DNA in illegal import.“

Chief Veterinary Officer at the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Robert Huey, said: “The greatest risk is to our agri-food industry and our environment, as any introduction of pests, diseases and non-native species can have a potentially devastating impact. Ecosystems can be disrupted, with significant knock-on effects on agriculture and the local economy. Imports of meat or meat products, milk and other dairy products are banned from most countries outside the EU. There are also strict controls on animal products that can be brought in from the EU. It is always advisable to check the rules before travel and refrain from bringing back animal products or plants that might be carrying pests or disease. Illegal products will be seized and destroyed. Furthermore, anyone detected in possession of prohibited items risks prosecution and a fine. So please do not bring any of these products back to Northern Ireland.”

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