FAILURE TO IMPOSE IMPORT CONTROLS SCANDALOUS - SAYS NPA
The cause of the current Foot and Mouth crisis is almost certainly the result of illegal import of meat products into the UK from outside the EU, says the NPA.
Members of the National Pig Association (NPA) have been investigating illegal meat imports following an announcement by the Association of Port Health Authorities (APHA) on 19th March 2001 that there were "loopholes in port health legislation" that could allow illegal meat into the country.
Hugh Crabtree, NPA Vice Chairman says; "The Association of Port Health Authorities is quite clear that the regulations encourage concealment so that the importer avoids costs of inspection.
"Furthermore, according to APHA, the Department of Health believes that the local authority will undertake checks - but this is not necessarily so, and in any event the costs of any such checks would fall to the council tax payer."
Mr Crabtree continued: "We have also uncovered huge amounts of meat being brought into the country under the guise of 'personal use'. We know from our contacts that very large amounts of meat indeed are brought into the UK through Heathrow Airport, and that serious concerns were raised with Nick Brown more than a year ago.
"It is absolutely scandalous that nothing has been done about this despite the best efforts of informed people on the ground.
"It seems every time there is a sniff of a problem with food from the UK, our partners in the EC and others immediately roll down the shutters on our trade. From what we have learned, it's obvious that despite repeated warnings, our own government has failed lamentably to ensure the safety of food and personal imports coming into the UK."
"It is clear negligence on the part of the government that is the most probable cause of this outbreak, and the most appalling aspect of what we have discovered, is that this flood of potentially infected meat continues to flow into the country as we speak - as soon as we clear up this mess, there could be another outbreak just waiting in the wings."
Mr Crabtree added: "In our briefing tomorrow* documentary evidence will be available along with thoughts on how this smuggling can be prevented in the future."