Calls to protect UK borders from “grave threat” of illegal meat

The National Pig Association (NPA) is calling on the main political parties to protect the borders from diseases such as African swine fever (ASF), as more than 65 tonnes of illegal meat have been seized at the port of Dover since September 2022.

different types of pork meat on chopping boards

NPA has published its election manifesto, prioritising three overriding priorities – a fair supply chain, investment in Britain’s biosecurity, and protection for the UK’s animal health and welfare.

Threat from illegal meat imports

Lack of resources for border checks on high risk goods moving from the EU to Great Britain poses a “grave threat” to the UK’s biosecurity and ability to prevent notifiable diseases such as ASF, NPA said in its election manifesto.

More than 65 tonnes of illegal meat products have been seized at the port of Dover since September 2022, despite limited funding, but Defra has proposed to slash funding for this vital work.

The NPA is calling for better border controls for meat imports and for sufficient resources to be made available at major ports, such as Dover. It also wants to see an urgent ban on all non-commercial pork imports, removing the current 2kg limit, and strict penalties for any individuals caught bringing illegal meat into the UK.

A review of APHA resource and expertise would ensure it is capable of responding quickly and effectively to notifiable disease outbreaks, the manifesto says.

Fairness in the supply chain

The NPA also called for ‘concrete actions and a mandatory code that better protects primary producers by distributing risk throughout the supply chain more proportionately’.

This code must cover the entire supply chain, including retailers, so costs and pressures are shared more equitably.

The NPA also wants to see more done to promote British pork through clearer country-of-origin labelling, more public procurement of home grown produce and investment in export markets.

Animal health and welfare

Under the third part of the manifesto, the NPA highlights how the British pig sector has led the way in making the UK global leader in animal and welfare, including the huge progress in reducing antibiotic usage in recent years.

The manifesto makes two key calls to help maintain this. The first is for the next Government to take an evidence-based approach to animal welfare policy and work side by side with the industry on future policies, particularly in relation to reform of farrowing systems.

The second is an insistence that future trade deals must not give access to pork produced in systems that would be illegal in the UK.

NPA chairman Rob Mutimer said: “The UK pig sector is currently in recovery mode following a disastrous two-year period that saw producers suffer huge financial losses, resulting in a significant contraction of the breeding herd.

“To get back to where we want to be, delivering high quality pork products for the nation, produced to the very highest standards, we need the next Government to support us by making the food chain fairer, protecting our borders and taking a balanced and collaborative approach to regulation.”

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