10 March 2001
Foot-and-mouth search continues
By Mike Stones
THE Ministry of Agriculture has pledged to devote more of its resources to finding where foot-and-mouth entered the UK, once the disease is contained.
Many vets believe imported meat could be the source of the infection.
The disease is endemic in parts of Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America, according to The Veterinary Record journal.
Airborne infection is another theory, while a minority suggests sabotage.
Fears about imported meat focus on the fact that the farmer whose stock have the oldest foot-and-mouth lesions fed his pigs on swill made from waste food.
Bobby Waugh told Farmers Weekly that he has used swill at his pig finishing unit at Heddon-on-the-Wall, Northumberland, for the past 10 years.
“Ive fed swill collected only from local schools and English and Italian restaurants,” he told the magazine last week.
A Northumberland County Council spokeswoman said that only local meat was fed to schoolchildren except for small quantities of Danish bacon.
Mr Waugh denied using other sources of potentially infected meat.
The local army barracks at Albermarle uses meat from Uruguay, which suffered a foot-and-mouth outbreak last year of a similar strain to the UK virus.
A British Army spokeswoman first said all waste was double wrapped at the barracks and disposed of carefully by the Waste company SITA.
But she later she admitted to being unsure of how many other companies might have contracts to dispose of waste from the barracks.
Newcastle Airport is another possible source of infected imported meat.
But a spokesman said: “No waste food products from the airport site are sold or given to farmers either by the airport company or its business partners.”
The Port of Tyne is also a potential source.
But Harbour master Gary Wilson told Farmers Weekly that waste from the docks was disposed off in accordance with the ports waste management plan.
Nevertheless, Clive Lawrance, director of Ciel Logistics, which supervises animal materials at Heathrow Airport, points the finger at illegally imported meat.
“We routinely detect illegal meat imports of about half a tonne per flight from some African countries such as Nigeria,” he said.