Disease: Don’t bring it home from holiday

Colin McKnight from DAERA's Planet Health branch underlines the simple message of 'Don't risk it' when considering taking plants and flowers home.
Colin McKnight from DAERA's Planet Health branch underlines the simple message of 'Don't risk it' when considering taking plants and flowers home.

Holidaymakers are being warned about the risks of importing animal or plant disease to Northern Ireland.

It is illegal to bring certain food and plant products into the country. The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is further urging anyone travelling abroad not to bring any animal or plant products home to avoid these risks.

Chief Veterinary Officer, Robert Huey, said: “As we come into the holiday period, and many people are travelling abroad, we are again highlighting these risks.

“The greatest risk is to our agri-food industry and our environment, as any introduction of pests, diseases and non-native species can have a potentially devastating impact. Ecosystems can be disrupted with significant knock-on effects on agriculture and the local economy.

“Imports of meat or meat products, milk and other dairy products are banned from most countries outside the EU. Illegal products will be seized and destroyed and anyone caught carrying prohibited items risks prosecution and a fine.”

Diseases such as foot-and-mouth cause serious economic impacts and can be brought into Northern Ireland via infected products of animal origin. Animal-related products may also pose a risk to human health from diseases, residues or contaminants. Such diseases and pests can have a disastrous effect on livestock, crops or the environment.

Jim Crummie, Acting Director of Plant Health, added: “It is not just animal products which pose a danger, fruit and vegetables may also carry pests that can infect plants. We are asking people not to bring plants, seeds or plant products back from their holidays.

“It may seem innocent to take home an attractive flower, or some seeds for the garden, but, unknowingly, pests and diseases can be present. There is also a risk that non-native species may be introduced that can have potentially catastrophic consequences on agriculture, horticulture, forestry and the environment if unchecked.

“The simple message from us is: ‘Don’t risk it - leave it behind’. Please do not bring home plants, seeds, fruit, vegetables or flowers.”

For detailed information on what can and cannot be brought into Northern Ireland, call the DAERA Portal Inspection Office on: 028 9442 6822 or contact: aldergrove.portal@daera-ni.gov.uk.

You can also visit the nidirect website here: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/bringing-food-and-plants-northern-ireland.

DAERA maintains an inspection presence at all of Northern Ireland’s main ports and airports.