Japanese imports of Chinese pork infected with African swine fever (ASF) showcases the challenge of containing the disease as it continues to cause issues in China and Europe.
ASF was found in 1.5kg sausages confiscated at Shin-Chitose Airport, Japan.
A similar case in South Korea highlighted the threat of imported products to countries currently free of the disease.
Closer to home, Belgian authorities were planning a cull of wild boar to prevent the disease spreading further.
Dr Zoe Davies, National Pig Association (NPA) chief executive, said the likelihood of infected meat finding its way into the pig population was ‘probably low, but the impact would clearly be huge’ and it was working on a campaign with Defra to raise awareness.
Dr Davies said: “The risks here are people disposing of the product in and around areas where pigs are and could get access, over the hedge into an outdoor pig unit, in a bin at a picnic site in the middle of the Forest of Dean where the feral pigs could get access, or inadvertently fed to pet or smallholder pigs.”
With some countries banning imports of all Belgian pig meat, prices have dropped, leading to some importers taking advantage.
Dr Davies said Belgian pork had apparently been ‘flooding into London’s Smithfield Market’.
While the pork coming in from Belgium was from unaffected zones, she said the concern was if the disease was to spread further to areas with commercial pigs and product was sold before it was known, it could pose a risk to the UK.
The NPA has highlighted the need for producers to contingency plan in case they became ‘stuck in an infected zone’.
This included thinking about temporary accommodation they may need.
Dr Davies also urged people to think about biosecurity, including ensuring no pigs or feral boar have access to meat or food waste products, not consuming pork products on-farm and making sure staff were aware of the signs.