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DEFRA campaign to combat illegal imports extends to veterinary practices

2 September 2002

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has recently launched a new campaign to tackle the problem of illegally imported meat, animal products and plants.

Posters and accompanying information leaflets have been produced and will, with the assistance of the RCVS, be distributed next week to all UK veterinary practices for display in waiting rooms as part of DEFRA's attempts to raise awareness of the dangers to animal and public health of bringing home such products from abroad. The information will also be sent to GPs' surgeries.

The RCVS had previously expressed concern about the apparent lack of import controls at UK airports and ports compared with those in place in other countries in its responses to the FMD Inquiries earlier this year.

RCVS Senior Vice President, Roger Eddy, said today, "A great deal of effort is needed to ensure that illegal imports are curtailed and there is a range of different measures that can be put in place. Practising veterinary surgeons, because of their frequent contact with animal owners, are in an ideal position to help inform the general public of the dangers of importing infectious diseases by bringing home meat or animal products from abroad."

This publicity campaign is one aspect of the Government's efforts to tackle the problem. Two sniffer dogs have also been introduced at Heathrow in a pilot study aimed to improve detection of illegally imported products hidden in passenger baggage.

More information regarding illegal imports can be obtained by visiting DEFRA's website or by calling the DEFRA helpline on 08459 335577

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