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Monday, 8 July, 2002, 09:38 GMT 10:38 UK
Clampdown on illegal food imports
Animal carcasses
Imports may have caused foot-and-mouth disease
Holiday makers and those who travel abroad regularly are being targeted by a new government campaign aimed at halting the import of illegal food.

It is thought that meat obtained from outside the EU and smuggled into the UK could have caused last year's devastating foot-and-mouth epidemic and before that an outbreak of swine fever.

The latest campaign will warn travellers that importing a variety of foods from outside the European Union (EU) could result in on-the-spot fines.

Products banned from outside the EU
Raw, dried or smoked meats
Fresh, dried or smoked fish
Pot plants and cuttings
Dairy products
Potatoes
Honey

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is also considering whether airline passengers from non-EU countries should be asked to declare on their landing cards if they have banned products.

Laws already in place mean anyone caught with an illegal product can face a maximum fine of 5,000.

The campaign will be launched on Monday by farming minister Lord Whitty under the campaign slogan, "Don't bring back more than you bargained for".

Travellers will be warned that for example, raw and dried meats, fresh and smoked fish and dairy products, including cheese, are all banned.


Harmful bacteria and viruses aren't visible. So, if in doubt, leave it out

Anthony Worrall-Thompson, TV chef

Even some honey - a product of animal origin - should not be packed in your suitcase.

Lord Whitty said: "The devastation that foot-and-mouth disease caused to the farming and tourist industries is still fresh in our minds.

"So it is in everyone's interest to make sure they play their part.

"Farmers and others are playing their part to help prevent the spread of disease, but more needs to be done to prevent disease entering the country in the first place.

Sniffer dogs

Television chef Antony Worrall-Thompson, who also breeds pigs, will front the campaign.

He said: "My advice to everyone travelling for business or pleasure outside the UK is check the rules before you go.

"Harmful bacteria and viruses aren't visible. So, if in doubt, leave it out."

Specially trained dogs will be stationed at ports and airports to sniff out illegal foods in passengers' luggage.

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