1. Thérèse Coffey and Richard Jacobs meet at SCPHA’s offices in the Port of Felixstowe to discuss the vital role of port health

Environment Secretary tours Suffolk port health authority upholding food security at the border

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) visited Britain’s busiest container port to see how checks are performed on imported food and animal products to protect public health.

Suffolk Coastal Port Health Authority (SCPHA) welcomed the Rt Hon Thérèse Coffey MP to the Port of Felixstowe as she toured a Border Control Post designed for the examination of imports.

Richard Jacobs, Port Health Manager of SCPHA, said:

“We are pleased to have been able to welcome the Secretary of State, who is also our local MP, to Suffolk Coastal Port Health Authority within the Port of Felixstowe.

“This has been a good opportunity to provide insight into the essential role port health plays in protecting public health and animal welfare from the threats encountered at our borders.” 

Thérèse Coffey and Richard Jacobs take SCPHA’s electric vehicles to the Border Control Post designed for import examinations.

Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey said:

“It was great to meet representatives from Suffolk Coastal Port Health Authority, including East Suffolk Council Leader, Cllr Steve Gallant, at the Port of Felixstowe recently. They play a hugely important role in protecting public health by ensuring food and animal products are imported safely.

“As the constituency MP as well as Environment Secretary, I’m conscious of the need to ensure they have the resources to ensure the smooth flow of import/exports. DEFRA has previously provided funding for preventative screening checks for African Swine Fever for example, related to a recent case to stop the import of smuggled meats. I will continue to work with the Authority to help protect public health.”

Thérèse Coffey tours the Border Control Post facilities with Andy Corder, Examinations Facilities Manager for the Port of Felixstowe.

SCPHA’s team members check consignments imported to the ports of Felixstowe, Harwich and Ipswich for food and animal products that do not meet the UK’s health standards.

Team members recently discovered an import of seabream infected with parasites – which severed and took the place of the fish’s tongues – and denied its entry into the UK. In November, a joint operation was launched between SCPHA and Border Force to fight the spread of African Swine Fever, resulting in the seizure of over 300kg of smuggled meats.

Richard said:

“Cases such as these are clear reminders of why we work hard to investigate imports and ensure they are safe for human consumption.

“The majority goods pass our import checks without presenting risks, but we have to remain vigilant as we never know when an unacceptable consignment will arrive.”

From left: Mary Rudd, Thérèse Coffey, Steve Gallant, Joanne Bradshaw, Chris Bally and Richard Jacobs.