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Illegal Meat Imports

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 29th April 2004.

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Photo of John Whittingdale John Whittingdale Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the risks to biosecurity as a result of illegal imports of meat; and what representations she has received about the threat to biosecurity as a result of such imports.

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Local Environment, Marine and Animal Welfare)

In March 2003, DEFRA published the Veterinary Laboratories Agency "Risk Assessment for the Import of Meat and Meat Products Contaminated with Foot and Mouth Disease Virus into Great Britain and the Subsequent Exposure of GB Livestock".

This estimated that FMD infection of GB livestock due to contaminated illegally imported meat would occur with a mean of one infection in 130 years, with a 90 per cent. certainty interval ranging from one infection in 41 years to one infection in 1,100 years.

A further report updating this risk assessment, incorporating additional data, will be published in the next few months. This report will also include similar risk assessments on three pig diseases—Classical Swine Fever, African Swine Fever and Swine Vesicular Disease.

All seizures of illegal imports are disposed as if they were category 1 material under the Animal By-Products Regulations (2003) and are sent for incineration without undue delay.

We have received many representations from stakeholders on these issues both in meetings and via correspondence and we take account of their views in developing our strategy.

We continue to work with interested groups on projects, such as with countryside user groups to raise awareness of all inland biosecurity issues, and with the Bushmeat Campaign and others in taking forward the message through publicity campaigns aimed at ethnic minority communities.

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