DEFRA reports that British Customs are seizing more illegal meat imports than ever before.
DEFRA reports that British Customs are seizing more illegal meat imports than ever before. Seizures of illegally imported animal products rose by 7% last year to 35,001. Most of the products seized were from Eastern Asia, Western Africa, and Eastern Europe; 81% of the seizures were from countries of origin with higher designated risk.
Although HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) monitors emerging smuggling trends, the majority of seizures were under 20kg, from small family groups, business people, and students travelling to the UK for the first time. DEFRA works with the HMRC and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to combat illegal imports through enforcement and raising public awareness (Meat Trades Journal 03/08/07).
There are now 11 specialist detector dogs across the UK working in Customs channels and baggage reclaim areas. They are particularly successful in identifying illegal imports concealed in baggage and can review large numbers of passengers and their baggage “in a short time.”
In attempts at preventing illegal imports in the first place several campaigns have been launched “to educate visitors about the legalities of bringing animal products into the UK.”
Noting the “surprisingly high level of emotion people associate with their food”, Jeff Rooker, Minister of State for sustainable food and farming and animal health, said “that the challenge now is to continue to build on the levels of public awareness, but also to move on to the next stage of encouraging behaviour change.”