Holidaymakers urged to avoid importing ‘devastating’ animal diseases

Northern Irish holidaymakers have been warned about the risks of importing animal diseases from their holiday destinations.

This warning comes from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer,  Dr Perpetua McNamee.

McNamee said that bringing back products derived from animals and plants from countries where infections are present could bring serious diseases or unwanted pests to Northern Ireland.

Diseases such as foot-and-mouth cause serious economic impacts and can be brought into Northern Ireland via infected animal products. Fruit and vegetables may also carry pests that can infect plants.

“Diseases such as foot-and-mouth or bird flu would threaten our animal health status. Should a major disease like this enter Northern Ireland, trade and jobs will be at risk.

Holidaymakers need to be aware that there are rules on what they can and cannot bring back with them from their trip.

“For example, it is illegal to bring meat or dairy products from outside the EU into Northern Ireland.

“People travelling through local ports or airports should therefore check the rules on food and plant imports before they leave home,” she said.

McNamee also said that holidaymakers need to be aware of the importance of bio-security as a means of protecting Northern Ireland’s food and drinks industry.

She also said that it important to note that illegal products will be seized and destroyed and anyone caught carrying prohibited items faces the risk of prosecution and a fine.

To keep illegal imports of animals, animal products and plant products, including fish, meat and vegetables out, DAERA maintains an inspection presence at all of Northern Ireland’s main ports and airports.