UK, London. At the start of September, new controls restricting pork products from entering Great Britain were introduced to protect the industry from possible outbreaks of African Swine Fever. The controls only apply to members of the public and do not impact commercial imports.
In September, the UK government enforced strict new controls restricting the movement of pork and pork products into Great Britain to help safeguard Britain’s pigs from the threat of African swine fever (ASF).
According to a recent press release, the new control is supposed to strengthen the requirements for bringing pork and pork products into Great Britain from the European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Association states.
Therefore, it will no longer be legal to bring 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 conducted by the Animal and Plant Health Agency, which recognises that the chance that the ASF virus may 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.
“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,” said Biosecurity Minister Lord Richard Benyon.
The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) welcomed the measure. “An outbreak of ASF would cause massive disruption to domestic and export trade were it to reach the UK. This new legislation is a hugely positive step in our bid to keep the disease out and a reminder to us all to stay vigilant,” said Mandy Nevel, AHDB Head of Animal Health & Welfare.
The National Pig Association (NPA) also welcomed the restrictions and further elaborated that human spread has been blamed on the virus suddenly appearing hundreds of kilometres away from existing cases on the European mainland. The ongoing spread led to significant disruptions to the meat trade, including damaging export bans, particularly in Germany.
It 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”, the industry body stated.
"Notifiable diseases such as ASF not only compromise the health and welfare of the pigs and potentially devastate businesses up and down the country, but an outbreak would also have huge implications for our ability to trade. The risk of ASF has never been so great, and the recent outbreaks linked to human movement in Italy and Germany have served as a stark reminder of just how vulnerable we are,” said senior policy adviser Rebecca Veale.
Source: Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs / The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board / The National Pig Association