New border laws make it easier than ever for criminals to smuggle illegal meat into the UK which could spread contagious diseases.

Large amounts of “illegal and diseased meat” is being smuggled into the UK by criminal gangs, according to a new report.

The gangs are bringing the meat into the country to sell to fast food restaurants, pubs, and “unscrupulous” manufacturers. Border officials shared the information with meat industry representatives in an online meeting on May 17, Farmers Weekly reports.

The gangs reportedly buy coaches and vans registered to England to smuggle in the meat. This is because they know they are less likely to be stopped upon entry at the Port of Dover than if they drove vehicles with foreign license plates.

As part of changes following Brexit, the government recently decided to end physical checks of imported meat at Dover. From this May, vehicles carrying meat now get sent to a new inland checking facility 22 miles away. Back in February, border officials warned this would lead to Dover becoming a “hotspot” for smugglers wanting to bypass border checks.

Disease fears

Since September 2022, 90 tonnes of illegal pork have been seized through checks at Dover, Farmers Weekly reports. More than 5,000kg of illegal meat was seized in February this year alone. But border authorities think this is only a fraction of what might be getting into the UK.

One of the major concerns around the import of illegal meat is that it will introduce African Swine Fever (ASF) to the UK.

ASF is a highly contagious disease in farmed and wild pigs, though humans can’t catch it. It can survive for long periods in pig meat and in the environment. It’s a serious problem in many parts of the world, including Europe, but it has so far not made it to the UK. It first spread from Africa, where it originally infected wild pigs through tick bites, to Europe through domesticated pigs being fed infected imported pig meat.

Original source: https://plantbasednews.org

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