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Last Updated: Monday, 17 May, 2004, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
Customs deny 'bushmeat' increase
Environmental health inspectors seizing illegal meat
There are warnings that the illegal meat trade could hit the meat industry
Customs officials have denied claims of a big increase in the seizures of illegal meat coming through Cardiff International Airport in the past six months.

The annual conference of the Farmers' Union of Wales in Aberystwyth heard claims from a civil service union that bushmeat - including gorilla and monkey meat - had been found.

However, a Customs and Excise spokeswoman said they had seized a quarter of a tonne of food over the last year, but only a "tiny minority" was bushmeat.

She said the vast majority, more than 95%, was 'regular' meat such as beef and pork products.

The spokeswoman said: "In the main, customs officers are detecting very small quantities of meat, dairy and fish from passengers travelling into Cardiff from non-EU countries and these are very rarely bush meat."

She said criminals were using increasingly sophisticated methods to smuggle and they were using a mobile and flexible approach to catch them.

A coalition of animal welfare bodies, environmental health specialists and other groups recently called for a government inquiry into what it called a threat to public health from illegal imports.

It said that the time may have come to set up one agency to tackle "the growing menace" from bushmeat imports.

Environmental health officers have also warned about the trade from so-called 'smokies' - delicacy made from carcasses which are primitively blow-torched.

Britons urge tighter meat imports
03 Mar 04  |  Science/Nature
UK bushmeat trader sent to prison
06 Jan 04  |  Science/Nature
Jail for illegal meat trade man
20 Jun 03  |  South West Wales

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