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Food: Illegal Meat Imports

Volume 700: debated on Tuesday 25 March 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have informed BAA of the risk to animal health and the economy of illegal meat imports; and, if so, what measures they have taken to obtain the co-operation of BAA to display prominently posters similar to those displayed in airports abroad warning incoming passengers not to bring any meat or meat products into the United Kingdom. [HL2473]

As part of ongoing work to tackle illegal imports of products of animal origin (POAO), Defra and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have always worked in co-operation with stakeholders, major airlines and airport authorities. They have been made fully aware that meat, food and plants can carry animal/plant pests and diseases, which can pose a risk to our environment and our agricultural and horticultural industries.

As part of our joint strategy for raising travellers' awareness of the rules on personal imports of POAO, high visibility posters in line with the European Union (EU) model prescribed in Commission Regulation 745/2004 are displayed at ports and airports. These advise incoming passengers that meat and dairy products from non-EU countries are prohibited and have recently been refreshed and updated. Appropriate sites, including in baggage reclaim areas, are agreed with BAA and the other airport and port operators.

HMRC has local representatives who are in contact with BAA and other airport and port operators to discuss and negotiate various issues, including where posters are sited. For example, during 2005-06, in response to avian influenza outbreaks in a number of countries, HMRC arranged with BAA and other operators for additional temporary “bird flu” posters to be displayed at UK ports and airports. These were placed in passenger terminals at arrivals and departures and highlighted the risk of bringing illegal meat and meat products into the UK. BAA and other operators also provide facilities for the storage and removal of any seized POAO items.