In excess of 300 kilograms of illegal meat and dairy products, detected in passenger luggage, has been seized by DAERA portal officials at Northern Ireland’s airports during June 2019.
A sample of these seizures have been tested at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) resulting in the detection of ASF DNA fragments.
The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is reminding holidaymakers travelling abroad not to bring any animal or plant products back into Northern Ireland.
Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Robert J Huey cautioned that it is illegal to bring certain food and plant products back into the country to avoid the risks of importing animal or plant disease.
He said: “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.”
“Illegal products will be seized and destroyed. Furthermore, anyone detected in possession of prohibited items risks prosecution and a fine.”
There is currently a specific concern over the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF), which is largely attributed to pigs consuming contaminated pork or pork products.
“If ASF were to enter Northern Ireland it could have devastating effects, all exports of relevant agri-food products would be severely restricted, damaging the Northern Ireland economy and putting local jobs at risk.”
Meat and dairy products should not be brought into Northern Ireland in passenger`s luggage; such items may be seized by Portal Inspection Branch staff at local ports and airports.
Dr Huey’s message was endorsed by Jim Crummie - Director of Plant Health at DAERA who added: “As well as animal products, fruit and vegetables may also carry pests that can infect plants.”
“We are asking people not to bring plants, seeds or plant products back from their holidays.”
“There is a risk that non-native species may be introduced that can have potentially catastrophic consequences on agriculture, horticulture, forestry and the environment if unchecked." he concluded.
Image source: DAERA