Tourists warned of risks of bringing food into the UK

The risks and controls prohibiting people bringing food into the UK from EU countries have been highlighted today as part of a public awareness campaign launched today.

The current rules mean that it is illegal to bring meat and milk-based products for personal use back into the UK from outside the EU. There are also limits on bringing back other food items, including fish, shellfish, honey, eggs and certain types of fruit and vegetables.

The limits depend on the country people are travelling from, and the same rules apply whether these food items are for personal use, as a gift, or if they are sent in the post. If the item is banned, or is in an amount greater than is allowed, it will be seized and destroyed.

Controls on food imports are essential to protect public health and livestock and the government is committed to reducing the risks of disease entering the food chain via illegally imported food products.

Enforcement activity has been stepped up at ports and airports. In 2003/04, Customs made over 15,000 seizures of illegally imported food.

Measures to raise public awareness and improve preventative measures at the UK border and inland are backed by £25 million from 2003-06.

Launching this phase of the 'If in doubt, Leave It out' campaign, Food and Farming Minister, Larry Whitty said: "People may not see any harm in bringing food back to the UK when they return from a holiday or a business trip, but some foods may contain pests and diseases that threaten the health of our agricultural crops and livestock, as well as public health. Because of these risks, there are strict restrictions on foodstuffs brought back from countries outside the EU."

A staffed and fully equipped mobile unit will explain the campaign's key messages around the UK. The unit will provide a 'one stop shop' for people to check the rules surrounding food imports, via an interactive website and campaign literature.


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