Skip to main content

Meat: Smuggling

Volume 476: debated on Thursday 22 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures are in place to prevent the importing of bush meat. (206294)

While there is no precise definition for bush meat, it is generally understood to mean the meat of wild animals hunted for food, derived mainly from Central and West African countries.

Where the animals that have been hunted are rare or endangered they may be listed and their international trade controlled on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), an international agreement signed by 172 countries including the UK, which aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

In a recent study commissioned jointly by DEFRA and HMRC, of 230 samples DMA tested just five were found to be from CITES listed species. The summary report is available on the DEFRA website.

Additionally, while bush meat is not thought to be a significant risk to animal health in the UK as it does not enter the animal food-chain, HMRC has powers to deal with animal products that are imported outside the veterinary checks regime under the Products Of Animal Origin (POAO) Regulations. This function is carried out at the border by HMRC’s delivery partner the UK Border Agency.

The UK Border Agency’s strategy is to deter and detect illegal imports of POAO from entering Great Britain (responsibility for Northern Ireland is with DARDNI). Frontline multifunctional officers are trained to tackle a range of high risk goods at the border, including POAO. There are also a number of detector dogs based around GB who are trained to detect POAO. Traffic is targeted from high risk countries based on risk assessment and intelligence.

DEFRA and HMRC have undertaken a number of publicity and awareness raising initiatives to inform travellers and the UK public of the regulations.