The Government should be bolstering resources for the Dover Port Health Authority in its work to seize illegal meat imports, rather than cutting it, NPA chief executive Lizzie Wilson has told the BBC Farming Today programme.
The Radio 4 programme covered the issue on this morning, hearing from Lucy Manzano, head of port health & public protection at Dover District Council, who confirmed the Government is proposing to cut funding for those checks, specifically intended to keep African swine fever out of the country, by 70%. “We believe that will have a catastrophic impact on GB biosecurity,” she said.
More than 60 tonnes of illegal meat have been seized at the port since new rules were introduced in September 2022, making it illegal for anyone to bring more than 2kg of pork products into the country unless produce to EU commercial standards.
- You can listen to the feature HERE (7 mins).
Mrs Wilson told the programme the association was deeply concerned about the increased risk of the introduction of ASF, and possibly other diseases such as foot-and-mouth, that will inevitably result from cutting this budget.
She highlighted that the work at Dover had shown the ‘unprecedented’ scale of the illegal meat imports coming through the port, often as a result of ‘serious organised food fraud’. What is being seized appears to be ‘just the tip of the iceberg’, she added.
It is estimated that 90% of illegal meat imports, which represent the biggest risk factor of an ASF outbreak in the UK, come through the short straits of Dover.
“The Government is proposing cutting that resource by 70% – it is limited anyway – when they should actually be bolstering that resource,” Lizzie said.
She added that the NPA also wanted to see the 2kg threshold removed in favour of a total ban on non-commercial pork imports, a move that would make it easier for the public to understand and to enforce.