Food safety campaigners say government measures to prevent football fans bring illegal meat into the UK from South Korea, which is suffering an epidemic of foot and mouth, are far from sufficient.
DEFRA (the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) has responded to calls for tighter security by posting a warning on the Football Association website and calling for extra vigilance on the part of customs and other port agencies.
Importers and the National Farmers’ Union say this does not go far enough. Importer Clive Lawrence is quoted as saying that the repeated assurances of a crackdown are failing to happen: “I am totally unimpressed. We keep hearing from Ministers what they are going to do. But when it comes to what’s actually been done, there is nothing anyone can put their finger on. This approach to the potential problem of the World Cup fans is typical. What do they seriously think they are going to achieve?”
Ben Gill of the National Farmers’ Union said the only hope of reducing the risk of illegally imported food triggering another FMD outbreak would be to impose a ban on all personal allowances of food and farm produce: “The clearest solution would be to abolish the allowances altogether, with some exceptions, for example milk for babies or items essential for medical purposes.”
Food Chain Minister Lord Whitty, meanwhile, reminded the media that the bulk of illegal meat does not come in through personal allowances, but through commercial shipping operations, and it is on this area that Defra has been focusing its attentions.