Government crack down on illegal meat and fruit imports

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A publicity drive launched last week by the UK government will be a
vital part of the fight to stamp out illegal imports of meat and
plant material, said the UK's farm industry body.

The food standards spokesman Michael Seals of the National Farmers Union (NFU) welcomed the initiative, launched by HM Customs & Excise in co-ordination with Department for Environment, Food and rural Affairs.

He acknowledged that progress is being made in tackling the issue with evidence that the number of Customs seizures of illegal material is increasing, although official figures are not expected to be available until April.

The publicity campaign is part of an action plan against illegal imports of meat and plants that was published by the government in March last year.

As well as boosting publicity about the problem, the plan also includes putting strike teams in Customs as well as a series of inter-ministerial meetings to ensure effective co-ordination within government.

"It seems that our efforts to stamp out the problem of illegal imports of meat and plants are slowly beginning to bear fruit. We must also focus on ensuring that illegally imported food and plants on sale in our shops are seized,?/i> said Michael Seals.

Incidences of disease like the recent potato ring rot outbreak and ramorum dieback in trees show that the battle is far from over and we must all remain vigilant if we are to avoid a repeat of disasters like foot and mouth, he added.

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