More than 50 people a day have illegal foods seized at ports and airports when entering the UK, the latest figures show.
More than 21,200 illegal personal food items, such as meat and dairy products, brought in from non-EU countries were seized by UK enforcement agencies such as the UK Border Agency last year, under EU rules intended to protect people, livestock and crops from exotic pests and diseases.
Food Minister Jim Paice said:
“Most people bring back these items for a ‘taste of home’, but they could be bringing back disease.
“We need to make sure we protect our crops and livestock, as well as people’s health – which is why we’ve been working to raise awareness and dispel myths about personal food imports rules.
“Most of these foods can now be purchased in British markets and shops.”
Enforcement agencies seized more illegal dairy products (45 per cent increase) and illegal meat products (14 per cent increase), according to the Annual Review of Controls on Imports of Animal Products.
The UK Border Agency has deployed officers to further target high risk routes for illegal meat and dairy products carried by incoming travellers in line with the Government priority to protect the UK agriculture from harmful outbreaks of animal diseases. EU rules changed from May 2009 allowing an increase to the personal concession amount allowed for fish.
Defra, the UK Border Agency and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) raised public awareness of the rules in many ways last year including the re-launch of the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) campaign, with African and Chinese community campaign ambassadors. The campaign also included significant community outreach events to help raise awareness.