3. Slabs of unpackaged meats discovered and confiscated by SCPHA

One tonne of illegal pork seized to combat African Swine Fever


ne tonne of smuggled pork has been seized at the ports of Felixstowe and Harwich to reduce the chances of an African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak in Britain.

In a joint operation with Border Force, Suffolk Coastal Port Health Authority (SCPHA) has searched traffic entering the ports of Felixstowe and Harwich from the EU for pork that doesn’t meet new standards set by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in August 2022.

Mark, Team Leader at SCPHA, said: “In just one week around Christmas, our team of 11 were able to identify, inspect and seize more than 300kg of pork that did not comply with the new controls. Since our operation began in November, we have confiscated one tonne in total.

“We are pleased our joint operation with Border Force has already made an impact in reducing the chances of an ASF outbreak Britain.

A bin bag full of illegal pork confiscated by SCPHA.

A bin bag full of illegal pork confiscated by SCPHA.

ASF is a highly contagious viral disease of pigs with potentially devastating effects on pig populations and the farming economy, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health.

Following a risk assessment by the Animal and Plant Health Agency on the threat of ASF, DEFRA announced new controls restricting the movement of pork into Britain to help safeguard the island’s pig population. Namely, travellers from the EU are no longer allowed to bring pork weighing over 2kg of personal allowance into Britain unless it is in verified commercial packaging with EU health marks.

Mark said: “We use our expertise in food security and public health to search vehicles, trailers and freight flagged by Border Force that could be carrying pork and identify the risks.

“We confiscate any pork we find that does not meet the new standards, as well as other meats that cannot be identified, and are pleased to say the majority of confiscated pork to date has been surrendered voluntarily.”

Illegal pork smuggled into Harwich port in a carrier bag.

The joint operation was due to conclude in March 2023, however following the success has received further funding from DEFRA until March 2024.

Hannah Panting, Operations Manager at SCPHA, said: “Our teams have done a fantastic job in protecting Britain from the significant damage an ASF outbreak could cause the farming economy.

“We look forward to continuing the success of this operation and strengthening our cooperation with Border Force across 2023 and 2024.”

In addition to the joint operation with Border Force, SCPHA provides essential health checks on food and animal products imported to the Port of Felixstowe, Harwich International Port and the Port of Ipswich to protect public health and animal welfare, as well as infectious disease controls and ship sanitation certification.