Airport controls on passengers arriving in the UK remain lax, a survey shows, giving rise to fears among farmers that the country could again fall victim to foot and mouth disease.
A survey of 10,000 passengers carried out by the UK’s National Farmers’ Union indicates that only 4% of travellers were given information about bans on importing meat products. It is widely thought that illegal meat imports were responsible for last year’s outbreak of foot and mouth disease, which saw millions of animals culled and cost the UK economy billions of pounds.
Nevertheless, one year on the survey shows that 96 % of arriving passengers did not recall seeing any information posters, while less than half of 1% had had their luggage inspected for plants or food.
NFU chief Ben Gill said the government was still not taking the issue of imports seriously. “A year on from foot and mouth and DEFRA (the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) is still yet to make any real impact on educating arriving passengers of the threats posed by illegal imports,” Gill said. “Furthermore, DEFRA’s additional activity on detecting illegal imports consists of two sniffer dogs at Heathrow Airport to deal with the 219,000 bags that arrive each day,” he added.