Import disease risk assessed

THE CHANCE of foot-and-mouth infecting British livestock has increased to a one in 65-year probability, reports DEFRA‘s Veterinary Laboratory Agency.

The report, The Risk Assessment for the Import of Contaminated Meat and Meat Products into Great Britain and the Subsequent Exposure of GB Livestock, only considered the risk posed from countries outside the EU and from imported catering waste.

While the risk has doubled since 2003 the VLA dismissed any rise in real terms.

It said the increased risk is due to more seizures or greater precision in the results. 

It concluded that in either case there is a one in 100-year probability.

This latest report from the VLA has also benefited from greater detection and better knowledge to assess the risk.

The report represents a more accurate picture of the amount of illegal meat imported in to Great Britain each year.

The VLA are now 90% confident that between 4400 and 29000 tonnes – a mean of 12000 tonnes – of illegal meat enters Britain each year – an increase on the mean value of 7400 during 2003.

The VLA‘s assessment is that 97% of the FMD risk is in passenger baggage.

Since food carried in baggage is in much smaller quantities it is unrepresentative to compare the risks posed by large amounts seized in freight to that seized in baggage.

The report also considered the risks of other diseases such as Classical Swine Fever, African Swine Fever and Swine Vesicular Disease from the same sources.

The probability of infection with CSF from countries outside the EU is one in 10 years, but the report recognises that recent experience with CSF should see any future outbreak dealt with quickly.

The probability of infection from third countries of ASF and SVD is one in a thousand years and one in a billion years respectively.