Holidaymakers reminded about illegal import rules

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The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is reminding holidaymakers not to bring home illegal food and plant products.

Bringing back novel or exotic food and plant products from some countries could bring serious disease and unwanted pests to the region; these diseases may threaten the health of the local agricultural livestock and crops.

During 2011, over 1100 kg of illegal food products were seized at the two main local airports, and in recent years consignments of illegal food imports of food products of non-EU origin have been seized from over 80 countries worldwide.

“Holidaymakers should remember that there are basic rules on what they can and can’t bring back with them from their trip. There are restrictions on foodstuffs and plants which can be brought back from countries outside the north of Ireland,” said DARD’s Portal Divisional Veterinary Officer Jonathan Guy.

“People travelling through local ports or airports should check the rules on food and plant imports before they leave home. Illegal goods will be seized and destroyed, and having to conduct these checks may delay passengers. Offending holidaymakers also risk prosecution and a fine.

“Members of the public should remember that they could suffer serious human health risks associated with eating unfit products. To avoid any inconvenience when returning home from holiday, the public should familiarise themselves with the rules and restrictions which are in place regarding bringing food and plants back with them.

“Epizootic diseases threaten our animal health status include foot and mouth, swine fever and avian flu. There are currently outbreaks of foot and mouth disease in Egypt, China, and South Africa, and avian influenza in South Africa and Asia.”

To keep illegal imports of animals, animal products and plant products, including fish, meat and vegetables out, DARD’s Portal Inspection Branch maintain a permanent inspection presence at all main ports and airports.

For detailed information on what can and cannot be brought into the north of Ireland, call the DARD Portal Inspection Office on 028 9445 2577 or visit http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/bringing-food-and-plants-into-northern-ireland