Beware the risks of importing animal disease, warns chief vet

Northern Ireland’s chief veterinary officer, Robert Huey, has warned holidaymakers of the risks of importing animal disease such as foot-and-mouth disease.

“Bringing back products derived from animals or plants from countries where infections are present could bring serious diseases or unwanted pests to Northern Ireland.

“Diseases such as foot-and-mouth cause serious economic impacts and can be brought into Northern Ireland via infected animal products particularly those containing meat or milk. Such diseases and pests can have a devastating effect on livestock, crops or the environment.

“Diseases such as foot-and-mouth would threaten our animal health status. Should a major disease like this enter Northern Ireland, trade and jobs will be at risk.

“Holidaymakers need to be aware that there are rules on what they can and cannot bring back with them from their trip. For example, it is illegal to bring meat or dairy products from outside the EU into Northern Ireland. People travelling through local ports or airports should therefore check the rules on food and plant imports before they leave home.”

“We wish to raise awareness of the importance of bio security to protect our industry and also avoid the potential for enforcement actions. However it is important to note that illegal products will be seized and destroyed and anyone caught carrying prohibited items risks prosecution and a fine.”

To keep illegal imports of animals, animal products and plant products, including fish, meat and vegetables out, DAERA maintains an inspection presence at all of Northern Ireland’s main ports and airports.

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