PERSONAL IMPORTS of meat and milk from countries outside the European Union will be banned from 1 January, the Government announced yesterday, as part of strengthened precautions intended to prevent animal diseases entering Britain.
It will be an offence to bring in meat, milk and their products without valid veterinary certification from approved establishments in approved countries. In practical terms, they will be outlawed.
The move, made possible by a new Brussels regulation, is part of a strategy of steadily tightening controls on imports in response to last year's catastrophic outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, and the outbreak of classical swine fever shortly before that.
A video, "Hazardous Materials", has been produced by the Government for airlines and airports, to highlight the risk for tourists visiting Britain and Britons returning from overseas.
"We want to reduce the risk of plant and animal diseases entering this country," a government source said. "We don't know for a fact that foot- and-mouth disease and classical swine fever were caused by illegal imports, but we are suspicious, and there is a good chance that they were. …