Illegal imports campaign bearing fruit

by 5m Editor
9 February 2004, at 12:00am

UK - A publicity drive launched by the government will be a vital part of the fight to stamp out illegal imports of meat and plant material, says the NFU.

A new range of eye-catching posters in high profile port and airport locations will highlight import restrictions to travellers.

NFU food standards spokesman Michael Seals welcomed the initiative, launched by HM Customs & Excise in co-ordination with DEFRA.

He acknowledged that progress is being made in tackling the issue with evidence that the number of Customs seizures of illegal material is increasing, although official figures are not expected to be available until April.

The publicity campaign is part of an action plan against illegal imports of meat and plants that was published by government in March last year.

As well as boosting publicity about the problem, the plan also includes putting strike teams in Customs as well as a series of inter-ministerial meetings to ensure effective co-ordination within government.

Michael Seals said: “We are pleased with the progress that has been made on the action plan.

“It seems that our efforts to stamp out the problem of illegal imports of meat and plants are slowly beginning to bear fruit. We must also focus on ensuring that illegally imported food and plants on sale in our shops are seized.

“We are hopeful that the forthcoming publicity campaign will improve the situation even further by sending a clear message to travellers about what they can and can’t bring into the UK from abroad.

“We look forward to seeing even more progress reflected in the next action plan annual report when it is published in April.“

But he added: “Incidences of disease like the recent potato ring rot outbreak and ramorum dieback in trees show that the battle is far from over and we must all remain vigilant if we are to avoid a repeat of disasters like foot and mouth.

“So far no significant prosecutions have been made by Customs and Excise, but we understand evidence is being gathered in a number of instances that could result in court action.“

Source: National Farmers Union - 5th February 2004

5m Editor