African Swine Fever on the march with UK “vulnerable” according to BMPA
The UK is precariously vulnerable to African Swine Fever, the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) has revealed, after more cases were detected in western Europe.
Cases of African Swine Fever have been reported in western Germany
Meat industry officials are beginning to worry as African Swine Fever continues to find its way across Europe, after more cases have been uncovered in Germany. Worryingly, the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) has warned that a lack of border checks has left the UK vulnerable to the disease.
A recent UK Government report has revealed the rapid jumps African Swine Fever is making across continental Europe. Cases were reported in the north-eastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommen in both wild boar and domestic pigs, but now a case has been logged in Lower Saxony, just a few kilometres from the Dutch border.
The report confirmed that restriction zones of 3km and 10km were immediately put in place to restrict the spread of African Swine Fever, but with the reported case in an area with a high-density of pig farms and hundreds of kilometres from previous cases in the east and south of Germany, concerns are understandably running high elsewhere in Europe, including in the UK.
These concerns will not be eased by recent comments from the BMPA, which has suggested that the UK is vulnerable to African Swine Fever due to a lack of border checks.
“The UK is currently free of African Swine Fever, but this latest development has prompted concern amongst domestic pig farmers and processors that the government’s decision to shelve all border checks on food until further notice, leaves them vulnerable to an outbreak of the virus. And although less transmissible than foot and mouth disease, the consequences would be equally devastating for the UK pig industry,” the BMPA confirmed.
“Any farm where an infection occurs would mean the entire herd being culled, regardless of how many animals are affected. But on a wider scale, the arrival of African Swine Fever would cause an immediate ban on UK pork exports to some of our biggest international trading partners, including China. This would cause a significant drop in meat exports and cost the industry millions in lost trade.”
Nick Allen, CEO of the BMPA, has urged the UK Government to take action to prevent what could be a devastating outbreak to the UK pork sector.
“We are calling on the government to make travellers more aware of the risks of bringing prohibited food items into the UK and to encourage them to dispose of those products responsibly before entry. We would also like to see spot checks introduced as a further measure to improve biosecurity,” he said.
The BMPA added that while the suggested measures alone won’t protect the UK completely for African Swine Fever, they “would be better than the open border policy currently that is currently in place.”